Sneaky Collards

De Arbol (Capsicum Annuum) means tree like in Spanish. The plant has thick, upright, woody stems and the chile itself is narrow, curved and bright red in color. Believed to be closely related to the pequin, the De Arbol is thin fleshed, with tannic, smoky, grassy flavor and searing heat. This chile has a heat range of 7.5 on the heat scale of 1-10. De Arbol Chiles are comparable to a Cayenne Pepper. Scoville heat units 15,000 to 30,000.

Suggested Use:
De Arbol is a hot chile and a staple in Southwest kitchens. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish. Be adventurous and add them to your next stew or chili along with the other spices. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish.

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8 cups water
3 dried chiles de arbol
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
3-3/4 pounds collard greens (about 3 bunches), ribbed, washed, and cut into 1
1 large onion, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
1 large tomato, cored and quartered
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar. or red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton) or Hungarian paprika
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


In an 8 quart stockpot, bring the water to a boil over high heat, then add the chiles and 1 Tbsp. of salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the stock has a nice salty spiciness, about 10 minutes.

Add a few handfuls of the collard greens to the pot. They will float on the surface, so stir them frequently, submerging with the spoon, until they have turned a bright kelly green, about 3-5 minutes. They will become floppy and more compact, so you can add more handfuls of greens. Continue adding more greens and stirring and submerging them until all the collards are in the pot (about 6-10 minutes). Turn the heat down to the gentlest simmer and note your time at this point.

While the greens simmer, place the onion and tomato in a small bowl and drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over them, then add 1 tsp. of salt, the paprika, and the pepper, and toss to coat. Transfer the vegetables to a medium cast-iron skillet and add the garlic. Place the skillet under a hot broiler, about 3″ from the flame or heating element, until the vegetables are nicely charred, about 6-8 minutes, then set them on the stove top to cool.

When the garlic is cool enough to touch, peel the cloves and return them to the skillet, discarding the charred skins. Transfer the broiled onion, tomato and garlic to a blender or food processor and blend at high speed until the mixture is completely smooth, about 3 minutes. You should have close to 1-1/2 cups of puree.

With a ladle, remove 6 cups of the stock from the collards pot and discard or save for soup. Add the puree and continue to simmer the greens, for a total of 1 hour from the point at which you noted the time. The greens will be a very dark matte green and completely tender, bathed in pale red gravy.

Transfer servings of the collards to plates with a slotted spoon.

Recipe from Matt Lee and Ted Lees “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.”