What does it mean to be a "Scratch Kitchen"? An example - the Saddleback Collard Greens

Did you know that it takes over 9 days to prep our collard greens? Or that we make our own bacon, sausage, salsa, etc. The term "Scratch Kitchen" is thrown around a lot nowdays but we find that few people outside of the restaurant industry actually know what it means. Being a "Scratch Kitchen" takes a lot of work and we do it because we love what we do. To give you an example of what it takes to be a scratch kitchen we want to show you one of our processes: Making the Saddleback Collard Greens. 

First, let’s explain what collard greens are and why they can be difficult to cook. Collard greens are a green leafy vegetable that are usually cultivated in colder months after the first frost has fallen. They are in the same family as cabbage and broccoli and are basically big greens leaves with long green stems. They look like something that Adam might have used to cloth him and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They are very tough and because of this they take a little knowledge on how to cook them and lots of time. They are a Southern dish that consists of a salted pork product (bacon, ham hocks, etc.), chicken broth, apple cider vinegar and crushed red pepper flakes. Here is a rundown on how we go about making this southern delicacy:

(Above: Collard Green's Arriving)

How you trim these guys is of the utmost importance. You have to cut down the stems into small pieces because these are what takes the longest. The stalks get cut down into ⅛ inch slices, think of the width of a tick tack, and the leaves are cut into inch by inch squares. Breakdown all of the greens that you plan on cooking first so that you can just drop them into the pot once you are ready for them.

(Above: Collard Green Stalks Being Cut Down)

Next we cut our house cured bacon (at home any store bought bacon would work) into the same size pieces as the stems of the greens and we cook them in a pot large enough to fit all of your ingredients. Since the greens cook down and reduce in size by half, if you put them in a pot uncooked and they fit - you are all set. We cook the bacon till it gets slightly crispy and most of the fat has rendered  (melted) out of it. Once that is done we take our diced red onion and garlic and add them to the pot. These are also cut into the same size pieces as the collard green stems. We cook these until the onions are translucent  (see through) and then we add just the stems of the greens and cook them for about a 15 minutes or so to deglaze the pan (removing all of the brown off the bottom of the pan) and also give the stems a head start.

Once this is done we add our chicken stock, apple cider vinegar and crushed red pepper flakes and let all of this come to a light boil. Then we add all of the rest of the greens and let these cook down for hours. Make sure that you keep stirring these every 15 minutes so they cook evenly. They are done once the stems are fork tender.

(Above: House Cured Bacon or Pork Belly. Cured for 7 days) 

Usually we cut our greens the day ahead because it takes over an hour to cut up a whole case. We are limited in space to get this done and it’s tough to do if we are busy. All told the second day takes about a total of 4 hours. Half hour total to cook the bacon, onions and garlic and then 3 plus hours for the greens to get tender. 

Spending all of this time might seem absurd to some, but like how we smoke our BBQ, we truly believe that the time we take is necessary to provide you with the type of BBQ experience you are looking for. One that takes pride in the process and one that takes time and patience. Know that all of our food is a labor of love and that everything is truly made from scratch. Hopefully this highlights our process and commitment to you.