Carla Hall’s grandmother Freddie Mai Glover cooked collard greens only one way. “She added pork and simmered them a really long time,” says Hall, a Nashville native who cohosts The Chew on ABC and runs Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen in Brooklyn. Now that Hall has added consulting chef for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture to her résumé, she’s been expanding her knowledge of African American—and African—cooking. Which inspired this pot of greens seasoned with thyme, coconut, and chile in the style of Caribbean and West African callaloo, a dish of stewed amaranth greens that’s kin to her grandmother’s collards. “I never want my food to be gratuitously different,” Hall says. “If somebody from Jamaica or West Africa has these, they’ll taste familiar. If a Southerner eats them, they’ll still taste familiar.” Oh, and resist the urge to cut out the stems. “Not only do the stems give you good texture,” she says, “but they also look cool.”
Food & Drink
Carla Hall’s Callaloo Collard Greens
A fiery Caribbean chile makes for one hot mess of greens
photo: Johnny Autry
3 strips bacon
1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1/4 cup minced garlic, from about 8 cloves
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tbsp. paprika
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, slit open
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
3 lb. collard greens, washed but not stemmed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon, but not the fat, and drain on paper towels.
To the fat, add bell pepper, onion, garlic, and salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in paprika, then add thyme and chile. Cook for 2 more minutes, and then add water and coconut milk. Raise heat to high and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the liquid cooks, prepare the collards: Roll the leaves like cigars and cut them into ¼-inch-wide strips, stems included. Stir sliced collards into the liquid and cook for 30–40 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste and serve with bacon crumbled on top.
Recipe from chef Carla Hall of Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen in Brooklyn, New York.
Sweet Home Cafe, the restaurant in Washington, D.C.’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture for which Carla Hall helped develop menus, has two stations devoted to Southern food—one serving soulful classics like collard greens, another serving Creole specialties.
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