My collards have come up! They’re green and beautiful and tender and perfect and I love them. I mean, I always love collards, but tender young collards are the best, and I’m giddy seeing my garden bed bursting with them.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy collards this year (second only to my holiday skillet of good fortune) is with bacon, onion, vinegar, shrimp, and a bit of apple cider vinegar. Throw them over a bowl of cheese grits and you’ll have my favorite meal of the season.
I’ve also taken to chopping my collards into ribbons, about 2″ long and 1/4″ thick, which I’ve determined (after many years of R&D) is the perfect size for cooked collards. This allows me to cook them in a skillet over medium heat with the rest of the ingredients for a relatively short amount of time, which means they aren’t plagued by sliminess or bitterness. And since collards are happiest when they’re paired with bacon and apple cider vinegar, this dish has it all.
Shrimp, Collards, & Cheese Grits
1 lb bacon
2 tbsp butter
1 white onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
10-12 large collards leaves
1 lb fresh shrimp, cleaned
3 cups yellow grits
6 cups whole milk
3 cups water or stock
1 tbsp sea salt
1/2 lb white cheddar cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Chop your bacon and start in a skillet with butter over medium heat. Dice your onion and garlic and add to the skillet, stirring together. Cook for 20 minutes or until bacon has crisped slightly and onions have begun to caramelize. While your onions and bacon are cooking cut the ribs out of the kale and thinly slice into ribbons. Mix into skillet along with apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 15 minutes.
Bring your water, milk, and grits to a light boil. Stir in salt and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Mix in cheese and lemon juice and stir well.
Clean your shrimp well and stir into collards. Continue to cook, stirring, until the shrimp are pink, 3-5 minutes.
Serve grits topped with a heaping scoop of collards and shrimp and enjoy!