Take the bunch of collard leaves apart. Remove any yellow or wilted leaves within the bunch. Cut the thick center rib out of each collard green leaf.
Stack each stemless collard leaf in a pile and roll them up like you would a cigar. Slice the rolled leaves into ½-inch ribbons. Pick the ribbons up with your hands and shake them out of the rolls. Give the ribbons a few rough chops to make them shorter.
Put the collards inside the drain bowl of a salad spinner or colander. Toss the collards under cold water to wash off the grit and dirt. Allow them to drain well or spin in the salad spinner. Make sure they are as dry as possible before cooking.
Cook The Collard Greens:
Add the diced bacon and onion to a heavy Dutch oven (with a lid) over medium heat. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy and the onions are translucent; about 5 minutes.
Add in the garlic and sugar, stirring constantly until fragrant (about 1 minute) before adding the collard greens. Toss the collard greens with the onions, bacon, and garlic. Place the lid on the Dutch oven. Cook stirring occasionally until the leaves are tender; about 5 minutes.
Season & Serve The Collard Greens
Give the collards a taste and season with salt as needed. Stir in the red crushed pepper flakes to taste before serving for a little spice (optional).
Caution: Droplets of water from the collard leaves can cause the grease to spatter. Make sure the collard leaves are completely dry before adding them to the pot. Shopping for Collard Greens:
Choose bunches with small, thin leaves versus large, thick leaves. They have the mildest flavor and will not be as tough as the larger ones.
Look for bright green leaves that are firm, tender, and perky. Pass up on bunches with lots of wilted leaves or ones that have a lot of brown spots or bug holes.
You can store collard greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days before cooking them. Keep in mind the longer you keep them the tougher and more bitter than can become.
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