- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- Two 1-pound meaty ham hocks
- 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- One 750-ml bottle sparkling apple cider
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 pounds collard greens, stems and tough inner ribs discarded, leaves cut crosswise into 1-inch ribbons
- In a large pot, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the chile powder and cayenne and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until dissolved, about 1 minute longer. Add the ham hocks, chicken stock, sparkling cider and bay leaves. Season lightly with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the ham hocks are tender, about 2 hours.
- Remove the ham hocks from the broth and let them cool slightly. Skim the fat from the broth. Remove the meat from the ham hocks and cut it into 1-inch pieces.
- Bring the broth to a boil. Add the collards in large handfuls, allowing the greens to wilt before adding more. When all of the greens have been added, return the meat to the pot, cover and simmer until the collards are tender, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl. Discard the bay leaves and serve.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.