I think I have included this recipe for the last three Thanksgivings. I love it that much. We made it again this year for our feast and it confirmed once again that it is a winner! I think this would be equally delicious without the ham in the breadcrumb topping, maybe add a bit of our Smoked Chili Salt in the topping.
4 oz very thinly sliced Country Ham or Prosciutto
1 cup coarse fresh Breadcrumbs
4 TB Olive Oil, divided
1 tsp chopped fresh Thyme
1 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
2 TB Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
About 1 lb Collard Greens
1 large Onion, thinly sliced
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 TB unsalted Butter
2 TB All-Purpose Flour
2 cups Whole Milk
1/4 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
Preheat oven to 325 F. Place ham on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until crisp, 20-25 minutes; let cool and break into pieces. Combine breadcrumbs and 2 TB oil in a medium skillet; toast over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and add thyme, 1/4 cup Parmesan, chopped parsley; season with salt and pepper. Mix in ham and set aside. Cook collard greens in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender and bright green. I leave the stems on and use them like a handle to put in and out of the pot. Drain, transfer to a bowl of ice water, and let cool. Drain and squeeze dry with paper towels. Coarsely chop greens and place in a large bowl. Heat remaining 2 TB oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and golden, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to bowl with greens; set aside. Reserve saucepan. Increase oven temperature to 400 F. Melt butter in reserved saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth and very pale brown, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, 1/2 cupful at a time; add nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, whisking often, until thickened, 5-8 minutes. Whisk in remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan. Add béchamel to collard green mixture and mix to combine; season with salt and pepper. Transfer collard green mixture to a 10” cast iron skillet or 9” pie dish and top with breadcrumb mixture; place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until grating is bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.