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Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

What better way to use any saved turkey pieces from Thanksgiving than in this Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens. A beautiful twist on a Southern classic, these collard greens are just as bold in flavor, semi-spicy and sweet, tender, silky in texture, and the ultimate side dish (or main) for the entire family. Slow cooked and made in 2-3 hours, these greens are the epitome of ‘the good ole’ days type of cooking is the best type of cooking’. Leftover turkey never tasted so good! Vegan option.

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

This Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens recipe is literally one of my faves, ya’ll. If I’m honest, I’ve been a fan of collard greens for as long as I remember. I mean, this dish is such a staple down South and I would probably get my Southern Card revoked if I hated this. Haha.

Just kidding.

But seriously, these collard greens are SO good! They are tender, silky in texture, spicy + sweet at the same time, and just DELICIOUS.

Plus, they aren’t hard to make at all and simply just take a bit of prepping to get things done right. Oh and they are slowly cooked, so it’s similar to the Slow Cooker’s set it and forget it way of cooking.

I love using a good ole’ dutch pot for these greens (which cooks them perfectly by the way) and they literally simmer for a good 2-3 hours before they’re done. I’ve simply cooked these and either made other recipes in the meantime or completed household chores around the house as the stove did it’s thing. Just a few stirs every 30 minutes or so is all it needs.

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

With Thanksgiving now over, many of you might have a bit of turkey leftover. I know that I do. This year since I did Thanksgiving low-key with just my husband and son, I wanted to get a small turkey which was at about 4 lbs. 

Even 4 lbs was HUGE and I still have turkey leftover after eating it every single day since. Haha. But who’s complaining anyway, especially when this recipe is such a great way to utilize your leftovers.

To be transparent, I have been so hesitant to make collard greens because I thought that the process was hard. can you relate? As much as I OBSESS over collard greens and while my Mother-in-Law has made it a tradition to make them for me every Thanksgiving (minus this year), I’ve never attempted to make them myself. I know. Insane.

However, with this year’s Holiday season looking a bit different, I chose to face my fears and make my attempt and OMG. I’m pleasantly surprised at how GOOD it turned out! 

Of course, I retested this recipe recently and it’s even more perfect, so I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Besides, I made a few recipes from my 60+ Easy Vegan Recipes list to go with this dish and man——I’m obsessed! 

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

First things first, there are a few things that I should mention to ensure that your experience making Collard Greens is seamless. When it comes to introducing recipes, I always love to break things down so that you are completely comfortable in the kitchen and able to cook/bake with confidence.

What Are Collard Greens Anyway?

Whelp, in my simple terms, collard greens are the epitome of Southern cooking. Haha. They are just as important as Mac + Cheese, Chicken, Stuffing, and Cornbread, in my opinion. But to be more technical, collard greens are a type of plant that have large, dark-green leaves which are available all year round, but peaks during the winter and early spring months. They are related to other leafy greens such as bok choy, kale, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, etc.

Health Benefits of Collard Greens.

When it comes to nutritional value, collard greens are often considered one of the most healthiest greens. Collard Greens are an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and calcium. In addition, they are rich in Vitamin K and are a good source of iron, Vitamin B-6, and Magnesium. 

Believe it or not, they are super helpful in the following areas:

  • Bone Health
  • Diabetes and Liver Function
  • Digestion
  • Healthy Skin + Hair
  • Sleep + Mood

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

How to Pick The Best Greens.

When shopping for collard greens, it’s best to go to your local organic grocer or farmer’s market. Personally, I always chose organic collard greens and much like lettuce and kale, I pay special attention to their leaves. You definitely want to ensure that they are bright, smooth, and not too hard or soft.

Cleaning Your Greens Before Cooking.

OK, so here’s the thing. Whenever I purchase my veggies (especially leafy greens or veggies), I soak them before washing. If you’re familiar with this method, then you know to simply add 3-4 Tbsps ACV or White Vinegar to water and let your greens sit soaked in a large bowl for 15-20 minutes. Once done, drain the water and wash your greens in lukewarm water while scrubbing them with your hands or vegetable brush and WALLAH! They’re nice and clean.

Remove the Stems or No?

Honestly, removing the stems are a personal preference. I personally grew up eating Collard Greens which had the stems in them, so I’m accustomed to making mine the same way. However, if you prefer to have no stems, you can simply remove them from your leaves by pulling the leafy parts apart. Rest assured, I often cook my collard greens super tender, which means that the stems will be just as tender and not that noticeable. Totally up to you, though!

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

What Part of the Turkey Should I Use?

Now onto the topic of the turkey. When it came to my leftover turkey, I chose to use the thigh area and breast meat. In addition, I found more of the ‘boney’ parts of the turkey for added flavor. I’m a huge believer in flavor. But of course, you can use whichever part you chose to. The only difference that it makes is in terms of the amount of meat that you want to be included in your collard greens.

Can I Add Additional Ingredients for Flavor?

Absolutely! When it comes to food, I can be pretty over the top on most occasions, so adding extra flavor is ALWAYS WELCOMED! With these collard greens, it’s no different. For more deliciousness, you can add bacon (pork bacon being the best for flavor), smoked turkey neck, ham-hock, or even jalapeños.

Can I Make This Vegan?

Of course! To make these collard greens vegan, simply omit the turkey and substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth. Everything else works just fine! For awesome Vegan options, be sure to search our site for ‘Vegan Recipes’.

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

How Do I Store? Can I Freeze?

Like many dishes, you can store any leftover greens in a tightly covered container or glass dish and refrigerated for 4-5 days. Of course, for a longer salvage, you can store them in the freezer using a freezer safe storage bag. 

Can I Make This Ahead of Time? Meal Prep?

Yup! For sure. These collard greens are perfect as a make ahead recipe since you’re able to soak, wash, + prep your collard greens 5 days in advance. Personally, I just ensure that I let them dry for a few hours (on a baking sheet or cutting board lined with paper towel + spread out) before adding them to a storage bag and refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Of course, if you’re planning on cooking this for a family gathering or on just a normal day, then you can prep them a day before for great ease on the day of.

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

Now that I’ve got all of the common Q+S’s out of the way, I can share a few of my tips and tricks as well as pairing suggestions with you. After re-testing these collard greens, I discovered new twists that made these collard greens even more BANGIN’. Trust me on this, OK? Good.

5 Tips + Tricks to Making These Greens Perfect.

Tip #1: Cook your greens in half water and half chicken broth. Yes, I said it. Chicken stock. Don’t worry about the fact that this has turkey in it. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

Tip #2: When cutting your greens, tightly roll each leaf (as shown above) and chop them into pieces. This way keeps your greens nice and long yet thin, which makes for a great “pick up” when serving and eating.

Tip #3: Less isn’t more. More is MORE! Haha. Yes, you read this right. I’m all about being over the top sometimes and when it comes to adding meat or flavor to these greens, I stand firm on this. It wont hurt at all, believe me.

Tip #4: These greens turn out best in a dutch pot. That’s how I grew up seeing them made (a lot less fancier than the modern version of course) and I’m a big believer that dutch pots do an awesome job in cooking everything evenly and keeping the flavor inside. YUM.

Tip #5: Just let them sit and do their thing! Unlike other dishes, these greens just need to sit, simmer, and cook slowly on their own. Again, you can stir every 3–45 minutes if needed, but otherwise, they will BE FINE and will be perfect if you let them be. 

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs
Total Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
Serves: 6 servings
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Ingredients

  • 3-4 large bunches of organic collard greens (That's about 12-14 cups when chopped!)
  • handful Leftover Turkey pieces (See Notes!)
  • 2 Tbsps organic brown sugar (Can also use Pure Cane Sugar!)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped (You can also use white or yellow onions!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt + black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsps worcheshire sauce
  • 2 tsps apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups organic chicken broth (I use Pacific Foods; See Notes for Vegan Option!)
  • 1 cup fresh water

Instructions

  • Begin by prepping your greens after soaking + washing. Simply roll each leaf tightly (with stem) and cut into small to medium pieces or tear your greens away from the stems.
  • In a large dutch pot over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and let it heat up. Once heated, add minced garlic and chopped onions, sautéing until translucent and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add seasonings to garlic and onions, stirring everything together until well combined.
  • Add in all the remaining ingredients (starting with the collard greens), stirring it all together until fully combined and the greens begin to shrink and wilt. Cover and cook on medium-high until everything begins to boil, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to the lowest setting and let everything simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Greens will be done once they are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and add additional salt to taste if needed.
  • Serve while warm and enjoy!
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Store any leftover greens in a tightly covered container or glass dish and refrigerated for 4-5 days. Of course, for a longer salvage, you can store them in the freezer using a freezer safe storage bag. 
  • MAKE AHEAD: Yup! For sure. These collard greens are perfect as a make ahead recipe since you're able to soak, wash, + prep your collard greens 5 days in advance. Personally, I just ensure that I let them dry for a few hours (on a baking sheet or cutting board lined with paper towel + spread out) before adding them to a storage bag and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
  • VEGAN OPTION: To make these greens vegan, simply omit the turkey meat and substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Everything else works!
  • TURKEY PIECES: When it came to my leftover turkey, I chose to use the thigh area and breast meat. In addition, I found more of the 'boney' parts of the turkey for added flavor. I'm a huge believer in flavor. But of course, you can use whichever part you chose to.

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Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens.

ORCHIDS + SWEET TEA

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