Smoky Soul Stock
2 smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey wings (see Note)
2 medium onions, quartered
4 celery stalks, including leaves, halved
2 carrots, trimmed and quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Greens and dumplings
1 1/2 quarts Smoky Soul Stock (above)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound collard greens
2 small dried red chile peppers or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste (used 2t diamond in greens)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups coarsely ground cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt, to taste
In a large heavy stockpot, bring 3 quarts water, the smoked meat, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, until the flavors are well-blended, about 2 hours. The broth develops a stronger flavor the longer you let it simmer. Remove the meat from the broth. When cool enough to handle, pull it off the bones (discard the skin, fat, and bones). Chop the meat and reserve for another use. Use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the stock. Refrigerate the stock until the fat floats to the top. Use a slotted spoon to skim off the fat and discard. Store the stock tightly covered in the fridge or freezer.
Make the Collard Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings: In a saucepan, bring the stock, onion, and garlic to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer while preparing the greens. Thoroughly wash the greens and trim away the stems, if desired. Discard the stems or chop small. Stack 2 or 3 leaves on a cutting board and roll tightly into a log. Slice the greens crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons. Place the greens and the chiles in the broth and return to a simmer. Cook, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours for very tender greens; you may cook them for less if you have young greens or prefer greens with more chew. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Spoon out about 1 cup of the potlikker (the cooking broth) and set aside. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the reserved potlikker, and heat to just below boiling. Remove the potlikker mixture from the heat and whisk half of it (1/2 cup) it into the dry ingredients, and more if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time (I needed almost the full cup to reach a thick batter consistency). Let stand 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, use wet fingertips (or in my case, a big scoop) to shape the dough into 6 dumplings.
During the last 15 minutes of the collards’ cooking time, carefully drop the cornmeal dumplings into the pot with the greens, making sure the dumplings rest in the potlikker. Cover the pot and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.