This recipe is adapted from the method shown to Vivian Howard by Betsy Cummings and Barbara Oxendine of Pembroke, N.C. on the greens episode of “Somewhere South.” Unlike stewed collards, these collards are thinly sliced and sauteed with sausage to be enjoyed between two slices of fried thin crispy cornbread.
Prepare the collards: Rinse the collards with water to remove grit. Cut stems off leaves. Stack about 4 to 6 leaves on top of each other and roll together into a cylinder. Chiffonade the collards, or cut into ¼-inch or less strips. Rinse again and drain in a colander until ready to cook.
Saute sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Break sausage apart with spatula and saute until fully cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Leave the sausage and rendered fat in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add salt, pepper and sugar to the pot.
Reduce heat to medium and add collards, a handful at a time. Saute the collards until wilted and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with more salt, pepper and sugar, if needed. Stir to fully combine. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and set aside while frying the cornbread.
Prepare the cornbread: Combine cornmeal, salt, pepper, egg and water or milk in a medium bowl. Stir together. You want the cornbread batter to drip, not run, off the spoon. Add more milk or water as needed until you get the desired consistency.
Add ½ cup Crisco to a 10- to 12-inch cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. When oil will sizzle, add 1 tablespoon cornbread batter at a time. Flip when edges are crisp and bubbles appear in center, about 2 to 3 minutes. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. Add another tablespoon vegetable shortening as needed to keep a layer of oil in the bottom of the skillet. You should end up with about 30 pieces of fried cornbread, each about 2 to 3 inches wide.
To serve: Place a heaping tablespoon of collards on top of one piece of cornbread. Top with a teaspoon or two of chow-chow. Top with another piece of cornbread.
Yield: 15 sandwiches