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JJ Johnson’s Beef-and-Rice-Stuffed Collard Greens


JJ Johnson’s Beef-and-Rice-Stuffed Collard Greens


Kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal)

20 large collard green leaves (from about 2 large bunches), stems trimmed, plus 4 cups chopped collard greens*

¾cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for the pan

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 pound lean ground beef

2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed

½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ teaspoon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add ½ teaspoon salt. Have ready a large bowl of ice water.
  2. Add the whole collard leaves to the boiling water a few at a time and cook until they turn bright green and soften enough that they are flexible, 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the leaves briefly to the ice water to stop the cooking, then place on a clean kitchen towel and pat dry.
  3. Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and chopped collards and sauté until the vegetables are almost tender, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in the rice, parsley, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper, tomato paste, and Tabasco and cook, stirring, to blend the flavors, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then adjust the salt, pepper, and/or Tabasco to taste as necessary.
  5. Lay one of the collard leaves on a clean cutting board and open it flat, with the bottom of the leaf toward you. Trim off any remaining thick center stem. Place a heaping ¼ cup of the beef mixture in the center. Fold both sides of the leaf over the filling and, starting with the bottom end, roll it up into a tight cylinder. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining collard leaves and filling.
  6. Brush the bottom of a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven with olive oil and line with 2 or 3 collard leaves. Arrange the stuffed leaves in layers, seam side down, in the saucepan. Pour the remaining ½ cup olive oil over the collard rolls and add enough water to cover them by about 1 inch. Place an inverted heatproof plate on top of the rolls to keep them submerged in the water.
  7. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat until the leaves are tender and the rice filling is cooked through, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Carefully remove the stuffed leaves from the pan and let cool slightly. Serve warm.


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