It’s not uncommon for Southerners to “put on a pot of collards” at lunchtime and cook them until supper. When shopping for collard greens, buy by the bunch. Avoid bunches with shriveled and yellowed leaves.
Place first 3 ingredients and 1 qt. water in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; simmer, uncovered, 1 hour.
Trim and discard thick stems from bottom of collard green leaves. Tear leaves into 2-inch pieces. Place leaves in a large bowl of water. Swish leaves around to remove any dirt. Remove leaves from bowl, and discard water. Add leaves to Dutch oven; stir. (The pot will be full, but the leaves will cook down.) Cover and simmer, stirring every 30 minutes, for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove ham hocks; remove meat from hocks, and chop. Discard any fat. Return meat to Dutch oven. Serve greens with a slotted spoon. Pass with Hot Pepper Vinegar. Reserve and enjoy potlikker.
Potlikker is the liquid that remains in the pot after greens are cooked. It’s packed with vitamins from the greens and is often enjoyed in a small soup bowl with cornbread. Some Southerners dunk cornbread in it; others crumble the bread right into the bowl. No matter the amount, it’s never acceptable to throw out the potlikker.