Smoked ham hocks are inexpensive and give the dish rich flavor; substitute with ham steak if you prefer. This dish defines easy, relaxed cooking, so don't stress over measurements.
Southern Living FEBRUARY 2014
1. Rinse and sort beans according to package directions. Place beans in a large bowl; add water to 2 inches above beans. Cover and chill 8 to 12 hours.
2. Drain beans, and place in a large saucepan. Add onion and 8 cups broth. Tie together thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and, if desired, sage and basil with string; add to bean mixture. Add ham hocks and, if desired, rind. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, 1 hour or until beans are tender but hold their shape. Skim off foam with a spoon.
3. Remove hocks, and cool 5 minutes. Remove meat from bones; discard bones. Return meat to bean mixture. Add collards, and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until collards are tender.
4. Sauté garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat 2 minutes or until light golden. Add tomatoes, and sauté 5 minutes. Stir tomato mixture and remaining 1 cup broth into beans, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Discard herb bundle and cheese rind; season beans with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
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