In the South, we take our collard green selection and preparation seriously.
Could it be possible that Neiman Marcus, the Texas-based luxury retailer known for selling high-fashion designer collections, can sell side dishes that compete with Granny’s collards and broccoli casserole?
You might need deep pockets to find out. You can now buy four 12-ounce trays of collards that serve eight to 10 people for $66 plus $15.50 for shipping and handling. Neiman Marcus also offers a complete Thanksgiving dinner that feeds up to eight people for as little as $495, plus $32 for shipping and handling.
Twitter users were quick to voice their opinions. The hashtag #GentrifiedGreens trended, and from the collection of tweets below, it’s fair to say that some people think the retailer may be a little out of its lane on this one.
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Wendy Segal of Neiman Marcus corporate communications replied to our inquiry via email Thursday afternoon. She wrote, “We have been successfully offering food through the mail for over 30 years. The Collard Greens are no longer available. We are sold out.”
This offer may be a quick option for some, but with the urgent need felt in area food banks and rescue missions, we looked into how many meals this amount of money would provide at The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Jessica Whichard, senior communications manager there, said by email that “for every $1 donated to the Food Bank, we can provide $10 worth of food, or five meals. In the case of the complete Thanksgiving for $495 from Neiman Marcus, we could turn that into $4,950 worth of food, or 2,475 meals for people in need.”
David Rayle of the Durham Rescue Mission said that the mission provides meals for a person staying there for $2.05 a meal. So $495 would be equal to about 241 meals. Each year the mission serves Thanksgiving dinners to needy families, and Rayle estimates that from numbers in previous years, the mission will serve 700 to 1,100 meals this year.
Also at the Food Bank, “we are planning on holiday-related food distributions and events in counties that felt the most impact from Hurricane Matthew, but those details are still coming together,” Whichard said. You can find out what’s needed at www.foodbankcenc.org/disasterrelief.
We also looked at how much it would cost the average chef to buy the items for such a batch of collards, using the recipe below.
We estimate it will cost you a little more than $20 for all of the ingredients, bacon ($6.49) and fresh collards being the most expensive items in the bunch.
This article from the NC Cooperative Extension Resources explains what collards are and how to grow them if you are feeling ambitious. The time to plant is midsummer or early spring.
Here is that nice recipe, from Fred Thompson, cookbook author and publisher of Edible Piedmont. (For the record, my grandmom would have used white vinegar and added boiled potatoes.)
Mama's Collards, with One of My Twists
4 strips thick cut bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 quart of water, vegetable broth or low sodium chicken broth
4 cloves of peeled garlic, left whole
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 large meaty smoked ham hock, or if you must a smoked turkey part
2 bunches, about 5 pounds, cabbage collards, cleaned in several rinses of water and stems removed, then roughly chopped.
Kosher salt and freshly grounded black pepper to taste
Additional vinegar, and hot sauce if desired
PLACE a stockpot over low heat. Add bacon and cook to render the fat. When bacon is crisp, remove and reserve.
COOK onion in bacon drippings until "lazy" and slightly colored, about 5 minutes, Pour in liquid and remaining ingredients except collards. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and continue cooking for 20 minutes. This is the "pot likker."
ADD collards, a handful at a time, stirring each until wilted. Cook over low heat for 2 hours or until tender.
REMOVE hock and let cool. Drain collards reserving liquid. Place liquid in refrigerator for a quick cool down.
CHOP collards if desired. Taste for salt and pepper. Break apart the hock, separating fat and meat, and finely dice the meat. Stir into collards. Remove "pot likker" and skim the white stuff off the top and stir into collards. Reserve liquid for dipping cornbread.
TRANSFER collards to a bowl, and top with the crisp bacon. Serve with a bottle of vinegar and hot sauce for the table. Freeze any leftovers.
Serve with: Most any winter meal like a pork loin, ham, a pot of beans or even grouper or steak.
Drink with: A North Carolina dry semisweet Norton grape wine, or a Riesling. Yield:
Aolani Donegan: 919-829-8983. On Twitter: @AolaniDonegan