1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, peanut oil or canola oil
1 smoked ham hock or smoked hog jowl or 1/4 pound slab bacon, diced
8 cups water
3 dried chili peppers or 1 tablespoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 2/3 pounds collard greens (about 3 bunches, ribbed, washed and cut into 1-inch wide strips)
Pour the oil into an 8-quart stockpot over medium-high heat and swirl it around so it covers the bottom.
Score the ham hock with a small sharp knife, and when the oil begins to shimmer, set it in the pot. Sear the hock all over as best you can and allow it to render some fat, about 6 minutes. (Since a hock's shape is so oblique, it will become spottily browned, but that is fine.)
Pour water into the pot; it will hiss and pop for a few seconds. Add the chilies and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, until the stock is deeply flavored with smoke and spiciness.
Add a few handfuls of collards to the pot. The greens will float to the surface, so stir them frequently, submerging them with the spoon, until they have turned a bright green, about 3 to 5 minutes, and become floppier and more compact, so you can add more handfuls. Continue adding collards, stirring and submerging them, until all the greens are in the pot. Turn heat to low and simmer gently for 1 hour. The greens will be very dark matte green and should be completely tender. If not tender, continue cooking.
Use a slotted spoon to serve greens and pass a cruet of pepper vinegar (see related recipe).
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
— From the award-winning "The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook," by Matt and Ted Lee (W.W. Norton, 2006).