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Lacquered Collards


1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil, like canola or grapeseed

1 onion, thinly sliced

10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

½ pound bacon, diced into ¼-inch pieces

½ pound cooked brisket, diced into ¼-inch pieces

1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer

2 cups chicken stock

¼ cup cane syrup

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne

2 (1-pound) bunches collard greens, stemmed and torn into pieces about the size of a dollar bill, then cut in half lengthwise

For a man like Isaac Toups, the most festive way to dress up holiday veggies is with meat. This recipe clocks in at a 2:1 ratio of greens to meat with a tangy lacquer. Isaac prefers equal amounts of brisket and bacon, but as long as you’ve got a pound of meat, you can use any mix you’ve got on hand.


  1. Heat a large dutch oven or stockpot over medium- high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Add onion and cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown. (You want good caramelization on the onion.) Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add bacon and brisket and cook another minute, stirring occasionally, until the fat begins to render.
  2. Add beer, stock, cane syrup, salt, black pepper, and cayenne and stir well. Reduce heat to medium and bring mixture to a simmer. Add a third of the collard greens and stir. Cover pot and cook for 10 minutes. Add another third of the collards, stir, cover, and cook 10 minutes more. Add the last third, stir, and cover. Cook for 45 minutes over medium heat.
  3. Uncover the pot and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low, keeping at a simmer, and cook uncovered for 1½ hours, stirring every 10 minutes. (Stir often, as you want the syrup and stock to adhere to all of the greens—to really lacquer them.) There won’t be a lot of water left at the bottom of the pot when these are done, only about a cup of liquid total.
From A Cajun Christmas
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