Somewhere in the course of these quick and short weeks, our sunshiny Summer days have been replaced with the still-sunshiny (albeit shorter) early days of Autumn. The silvery lining to all of this is the advent of chilly mornings, piping hot cups of chai, and the expectation that adding bacon and cream to anything is not only perfectly acceptable, but absolutely advisable.
For when else but Fall does one get the sudden urge to jettison everything ‘fresh’ and ‘crunchy’ and ‘crisp’ in favor of those things that are soft, oozy, and lovely? I for one am not the champion of all things rich when my white skinny jeans are still in heavy rotation — oh no. I want watermelon salads and cool gazpacho; avocado topped toasts and wedges of heirloom tomatoes.
But when the winds change, and those skinnies are swapped out for knee high boots and chunky knits, I suddenly find myself craving something more. And ‘more‘ doesn’t necessarily equate to something totally unhealthy or excessively heavy.
(However I’m quite certain my weekend buffalo wing habit is taking me nowhere good.)
By more I mean just a bit cozier; perhaps a tip of cream into a puree of squash, some toasty nuts nuzzled into my morning oatmeal, or a ladle of gravy draped over my roast chicken.
A little more. You know what I’m saying.
Though I do love a big ole pile of straight up sauteed collard greens (and most so when served somewhat stereotypically alongside a big piece of juicy fried chicken, but hey, can you really blame me?), something very magical happens when you toss a pile of the shredded leaves with a handful of crisped up bacon, some savory garlic and onion, and a heaping spoonful of creme fraiche.
The collards become unctuous and salty, and the crunch of the pearlescent onion and fatty bacon are the only interruptions to an otherwise silken pile of greens. The creme fraiche melts immediately into the pan, and settles in wonderfully down and around each bite, creating a just barely tangy sauce that is at the same time thin and luxurious.
Collard greens, Fall-ified.
Collard Greens with Bacon, Onion, and Creme Fraiche
1 bunch collard greens
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 slices of thick cut smoked bacon
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup creme fraiche
kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper
Start by removing any thick or tough ribs from the center of the collard greens. Roughly chop the collards; I do this by stacking the leaves and then cutting them horizontally and then vertically, so that you are left with little squares of leaves. Cut the bacon into a medium sized dice.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chopped bacon, and saute, stirring occasionally, until it is crisped up and well browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, and reserve to the side. Keeping the pan on medium high, add the onions and saute them in the rendered bacon fat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine to the pan, stir to combine with the onions and oil, and let cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped collard greens, the finely minced garlic, and a good pinch of salt, and toss to coat the greens in the onion and bacon fat mixture.
Cook the collard greens, tossing occasionally, until they are tender, eight to ten minutes. When the collards are tender, take the pan off the heat, and gently stir in the creme fraiche until it is totally combined with the sauteed greens. Taste and adjust for salt levels and season with a few grinds of fresh cracked pepper. Serve immediately.