A Side of Greens

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Caterer and food stylist Meta Adler reimagines a Southern favorite. 

When it comes to a traditional spread, there are certain dishes that always make the list.Here in Savannah, collard greens are a staple that keep on giving, and this Thanksgiving Meta Adler has a tweak to a tried and true dish that is both stunningly familiar and masterfully new.

Photography by Teresa Earnest

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Recipe: Collard Greens in Vidalia Onion Cups

[Serves 6]

1 pound collard greens, cleaned and cut into ½-inch strips

1 ham hock

4 cups chicken stock

2 to 3 Thai chilies

½ teaspoon salt

6 large Vidalia onions

2 Andouille sausages

1 cup grated Gruyere or White Cheddar cheese

½ stick butter

Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, add the collards, ham hock, chicken stock and whole chilies. Cover and bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low.  Stir often, until the collards begin to wilt. Simmer for at least 1 hour, or until the collards are tender. Taste and season as needed.

Remove the collards from the heat and allow to cool at room temperature. Discard the ham hock and chilies.

Cut an even slice from the top of each onion and a very thin slice from the bottom, so that the bulb stays intact and has a flat base to sit on. Peel the onions. Use a melon baller to scoop out the inside of the onion, leaving a ¼-inch wall. Reserve the onion pulp and finely chop 1 cup of it.

In a frying pan, brown and cook the whole sausages until done. Remove and place on plate, then add the onions to the same pan and sauté over medium heat, until translucent.  Set the onions aside in a medium-sized bowl. When the sausage is cool, cut it into a small dice and add to the bowl of onions.

Drain the collards, reserving the cooking liquid, or “collard likker.” Add to the onions and sausage and mix and combine well. Stuff each onion with the mixture. Place onions in a baking dish, cover with tin foil and place in the oven.

While the onions are baking, melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat and add the lemon zest and 4 tablespoons of the reserved collard likker and stir.

As the onions bake, occasionally drizzle them with some of the lemon butter. When the onions have softened but still retain their shape, about 30-40 minutes, remove from the oven. Drizzle onions with the remaining lemon butter and top with the grated cheese. Place them under the broiler, just until the cheese melts and begins to brown. Serve immediately.


Save time by preparing and assembling the onion cups a day in advance and store in fridge. Just bring them to room temperature before popping them in the oven.


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