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"O Pato" Couve Mineira (Brazilian Collard Greens)

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Couve a Mineira aka Brazilian collard greens with ham hocks is a quick, flavorful side dish. This easy collard greens recipe is great as a weeknight side.

Fresh leafy greens (collards) are chopped into thin strips and quickly cooked in smoky ham infused fat. The greens have similar flavor profile to Southern-style collard greens but the preparation and execution is altogether a very different process. I actually like the Brazilian style because you can get that greens fix easy and fast.

The similarities in the flavor profiles between Brazilian couve and Southern-style collard greens speak to the shared history across the African diaspora.

brazilian collard greens and turkey pices on a green plate

What is couve a mineira?

Couve is a national recipe in Brazil and is served regularly for different occasions, but definitely more everyday. It is made with thinly cut collard greens and quickly fried in a very garlicky olive oil in its basic execution. But as you can imagine depending on location, tradition or creativity there are versions that go beyond the base.

For most iterations its merely a question of whether bacon or some other type of pork fat is used to flavor the dish further and/or add additional texture. Salty, smoky bacon is most common, but this recipe calls for ham hocks  

Beats and Eats (music pairing for couve)

Joao Gilberto's version of "O Pato" is the perfect match for couve. The track is a popular song that's been performed by several different artists so it has both every man and special occasion vibes. The song feels like a celebration which is the same feeling you get when you bite into these greens.

Culinary History of Couve

The Minas Gerais region of Brazil is the home for the origin of couve. The northern part of this region borders Bahia which is where many African slaves were held. Not surprisingly, Africans have had a huge impact culturally among other things in Brazil and particularly in northern Minas Gerais. From a culinary perspective the heavy garlic and onion presence is directly tied to African cuisine.

Couve Ingredients

Collard Greens

Ham Hocks

Garlic

Onions

How to cut the collards

collard leaves stacked on cutting board
sliced collard green strips on cutting board

Collards in this recipe need to be cut into thin shreds. Visually think of what paper that goes through a shredder looks like. In order to get those thin shreds there are just a few considerations. 

  • Use a sharp knife
  • Roll the leaves like a cigar, making sure they are rolled tightly
  • Using your knife, starting with the front edge of the collards cigar, slice as thin as you can working your way down to the butt of the cigar.

How to Cook Couve

Great couve is about really infusing the oil with lots of flavor before adding the greens. The cook time for the greens is really short, so the more flavor in the oil, the better. 3 sources of flavor

  1. Ham hocks provide a meaty smokiness, similar to what you get in traditional southern collard greens. However instead of stewing in a pot, the hocks are fried in a skillet releasing their flavor as well as crisping up for some texture. Feel free to substitute smoked turkey for the hocks.
  2. Garlic and onions are essential. The garlic, of which there are a lot, are the essence of the recipe. It, well, makes these very garlicky and provides an unbelievable aroma.
  3. Salt and pepper are really all the seasoning you need in terms of spice. However, if you forgo the ham hocks for more of a vegan dish a good smoked paprika makes for a great alternative.

To actually cook, heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat for about a minute, then add the ham hocks, garlic, and onions.

cut chunks of smoked turkey
turkey ground in food processor
onions and turkey sauteing in pot

Sauté until aromatic, about 3-4 minutes, then add the collard greens, salt, and pepper.

collard greens sauteing in pot

Reduce heat to med low and continue to sauté until the greens are softened and vibrant in color. Should only take another 3-4 minutes.

Couve Cooking tips

  • Separate the shreds of collards as much as possible using your fingers. If the collards are tangled and stuck together, they become harder to manipulate and fry when cooking
  • To save time and effort use a food processor to chop the ham hocks
  • Saute the hocks, garlic and onion at low temps to infuse the olive oil with flavor
  • Toss the greens in the pan frequently to ensure all the greens get cooked evenly and coated with the oil. Quickly season with salt and pepper after the greens have wilted a little bit. 
  • For a vegan version drop the ham hocks, add a bit more garlic and smoked paprika for that smoky replacement for the hocks.
  • For a more detailed breakdown on cooking collard greens in various styles see my collard greens 101 post.

brazilian collard greens and turkey pices on a green plate

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Cooking Couve

What do you serve with Couve?

These greens can be served with pretty much anything. A typical Brazilian meal will pair couve a mineira with feijoada, which is a black bean and pork stew, and coconut rice. If you’re not going full on Brazilian night, pair them with whatever would with normal collard greens. For me it might be Blackened Chicken or Brined Pork Chops.

I like to douse my greens with homemade pepper sauce or hot sauce.

Is There A Non Pork Option?

You can substitute smoked turkey for the ham hocks. I like turkey wings or even tails as both have enough meat to replicate the ham hocks

MORE COLLARD GREENS RECIPES

If you like this couve, check out these other collard greens recipes:

Curried Collard Greens

Pressure Cooker Collard Greens

Collard Greens With Smoked Turkey

Smoked Brisket Collard Greens

Collard Greens Chow Chow Relish

Collard Greens Slaw

Brisket and Collard Greens

Wine Braised Collard Greens

Blackeyed Peas and Collard Greens

Collard Greens Chow Chow

Making Brazilian Collard Greens

If you make this easy collard greens recipe please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists. 

brazilian collard greens and turkey pices on a green plate

Couve a mineira (aka Brazilian Collard Greens

Brazilian collard greens with ham hocks is a quick, flavorful side dish. This easy collard greens recipe is great as a weeknight side.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Brazilian
Servings: 8
Calories: 198kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds collard greens 2 to 3 large bunches, stems removed
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 ham hocks meat removed and diced into small piece
  • 1 teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Wash the collard greens well and drain. Stack a few leaves at a time, then roll them tightly into a cigar. Thinly slice the leaves crosswise into thin shreds.
  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the ham hocks, onions, garlic and salt, cooking and stirring until the mixture is highly aromatic, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the greens, and sauté 3 or 4 minutes until they are bright green in color and starting to soften. Using tongues stir them as necessary to mix the greens well with the hocks, garlic and onions.
  • Season greens with more salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

 
  • Separate the shreds of collards as much as possible using your fingers. If the collards are tangled and stuck together, they become harder to manipulate and fry when cooking
  • To save time and effort use a food processor to chop the ham hocks
  • Alternatively replaces ham hocks with smoked turkey leg
  • Saute the hocks, garlic and onion at low temps to infuse the olive oil with flavor
  • Toss the greens in the pan frequently to ensure all the greens get cooked evenly and coated with the oil. Quickly season with salt and pepper after the greens have wilted a little bit. 
  • For a vegan version drop the ham hocks, add a bit more garlic and smoked paprika for that smoky replacement for the hocks.

Nutrition

Calories: 198kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 341mg | Potassium: 389mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 5691IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 276mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




Chenee Lewis

Monday 25th of April 2022

This Brazilian version of collard greens was delicious! I loved the method of cutting the greens thinly.

Lauren Michael Harris

Sunday 24th of April 2022

We are big fans of collard greens and always looking for different recipes to try. My husband LOVED this one - definitely a keeper!

Loreto Nardelli

Sunday 24th of April 2022

This is so close to home for us. Were Italian and love our green. Yours looks lovely! Simple and delicious, the Mediterranean way!

UR

Friday 22nd of April 2022

I agree this easy collard greens recipe is great as a weeknight side. Love to try every version of the collard greens recipe.

Leslie

Thursday 21st of April 2022

This is an excellent recipe and may be my favorite way to eat collard greens!