"Southern Night" Collards, Chicken, and Mac n' Cheese

I’ve always had this amazing affinity to southern food and almost anything cooked low and slow with smoked ham hocks, turkey wings and necks. I mean, wouldn’t anybody? 3-4 hours of simmering unctuous pot-likker, sticky on the lips savory on the tongue... de-lish. And don’t you forget about the crispy fragrant fried chicken, and classic mac and cheese. All round up into one night we probably should only have dreamt about.

Funny to say that I love me some collards, but strangely enough I never had the urge to make it till yesterday. I was inspired by bon appetits’ February issue in particular the section of “savor the south.” Once I saw the cover, I knew I had to have a “Southern Night” at one point...and very soon at that. Last night was the lucky night. 


I went to the store with a few things on my mind, smoked ham hocks, and turkey necks, and of course collards, fresh chicken thighs, wings, and a game plan. It was 3:15 when I got started on everything, I knew I had to give at least 4 hours for the collards and smoked goods to really start mingling. So I would suggest if you’re considering to make them, make sure you have the time to let it do its thing.

We all sat down to eat by 8:30, juicy fried chicken, bubbling mac and cheese, and a healthy dollop of collards. Everyone was pleased, and were anxiously waiting, becoming impatient as their stomachs began to rumble due to the pungent smokiness wafting through the whole house.

about 3 hours in...not quite there yet
the beeline...chicken, wet ingredients, dredge, oil, and rack
perfectly delectable mac and cheese
 finally, ready to dig in!

Below are the recipes if you desire to have a Southern night like we had. Believe me, it was worth the hours, and rumbling stomachs.

Collard Greens
 8-10 servings

1 T evoo
3 bunches collard greens (tough stems trimmed, chopped and reserved, leaves, chopped)
3  smoked ham hocks
5 smoked turkey necks
4 bay leaves
4 yellow onions (diced)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
3 T red wine vinegar
3 T sugar
Enough water to cover ham hocks and necks
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Heat oil in large pot over med high heat, saute onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Once lightly browned add in ham hocks and necks. Add enough water to cover the hocks and necks, add in sugar and red wine vinegar, bring to a boil then add collards. Bring it to a simmer and let it go for 4 hours or until the hocks and neck are falling off the bone. Stir from time to time and check seasoning. If it becomes too salty just add more water. Keep warm until ready to serve. Splash a little more red wine vinegar to cut the richness.

Crispy Fried Chicken
4 servings

4 fresh chicken thighs
4 fresh chicken wings
1 T kosher salt
2 T black pepper
1 T paprika
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 cumin
1 T garlic powder
1 t chile powder
8 sprigs of thyme

1 C buttermilk
1 egg
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1/4 C water

2 1/2 C flour
3 T cornstarch
1 T paprika
1 T salt
1 T pepper
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda

Enough Vegetable of Peanut oil for frying (less than 3/4 up your dutch oven)

bruise thyme and whisk all dry ingredients together. Pat chicken dry and sprinkle dry rub evenly on them. Place them in a ziploc bag with the thyme and release all the air in the bag. Zip it tight and massage it evenly and place it in the fridge to marinate 1 hour-overnight. Allow one hour to let it sit at room temp before frying.

Whisk buttermilk, egg, salt, pepper, and water together. This is for your wet mixture. Place it in a bowl when you are going to cook.

In a 9x13 inch pan or any square or rectangular pan, whisk in all your dry ingredients.

Pour oil into dutch oven (less than 3/4 up your dutch oven) and if you have an oil thermometer prop it on. (I just used the throw in some flour and watch method). Have your other elements ready next to your stove for easy reach and cleanup. chicken, buttermilk mixture, dry dredge, hot oil, and cooling rack.  When your thermometer registers 350 F you know you’re ready to go. Dip chicken in buttermilk, let access drip, dredge in flour and carefully drop into the oil. Cook about 4 pieces of chicken at a time. For thighs about 11 minutes and wings 7-8.  Once fried and crisp, place it on the cooling rack to drip and rest.

Classic Mac and Cheese
6 servings

2 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
3 T butter
4 T flour
3 C milk
1/2 pound Cheddar
1/4 pound American cheese
2 T salt
2 T pepper
1 1/2 T paprika
1 T mustard powder
1/2 pound Sharp cheddar (or any other good melty tasty cheese)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook macaroni till tender. Drain and place it in a 3 qt baking dish. Meanwhile melt butter and whisk flour in till blond over medium low heat. Whisking continuously add in milk and bring to a simmer. Add cheeses in and whisk to melt. Add mustard powder, salt, pepper and paprika and simmer it till everything is meltingly delicious. Pour over the macaroni and load the top with more cheese. Place it in the oven for 45 minutes till its bubbly and golden.


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