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Collard Greens

Pot Likker, Paradise Found


© 2016 All rights reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken, “My Florida Kitchen”

Coca Cola was invented in the South as most everyone knows. To align coke and cooking has been going on for nearly as long. Remember the origins of many of the ‘soft drinks’ began in the labs of chemists and drugstore based scientists. Dr. John S. Pemberton, a former Confederate Colonel wounded in the Civil War became addicted to morphine and began a quest to find a substitute for the dangerous opiate. His first version was "Dr. Tuggle's Compound Syrup of Globe Flower”. Some many years later he took a syrup he made in 1886 to his neighborhood pharmacy where he mixed that syrup with carbonated water. That was one helluva an ‘aha’ moment! Ours will not be served in vending machines… but it does well in as a ‘covered’ dish.

PS: When we combine this and mix it with our Mac N’ Cheese we call it the “Mac Daddy”….

Yield: 5 Cups

¾ Cup smoked bacon, diced small

2 Tablespoons pure olive oil

1 sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes

¾ Cup dark brown sugar

6 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon Creole mustard

2 pounds of cleaned (stems removed) collard greens, cut into 2” pieces

2 Cups Chicken Stock

28 ounce can of peeled whole tomatoes

1 quart Mexican Coke (preferred for the nature of the sugar in that type)

A sachet of 1 bunch of thyme, 12 black peppercorns and 1 broken bay leaf

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Render the bacon in a large pot over medium heat with the olive oil. When the bacon is fairlycrisp add the onions and garlic, red pepper flakes and allow to cook for about 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar, vinegar and Creole mustard and let it caramelize, (about 10 minutes). Add the collard greens and allow to wilt (about 5 minutes). Add the chicken stock, canned tomatoes, Coke and sachet. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about one hour or until the collards are tender. Strain off the greens and reduce the combined liquids with the sachet left in over medium-high heat until the stock reaches a “clinging” consistency to the greens. This will take 20 to 30 minutes. Strain onto the reserved greens. Reserve until needed.


Norman Van Aken has been described as legendary, visionary and a trailblazer. He is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.