“Huckle, this is party food!”
This is the line I think of whenever I think of these wontons. It’s from a Richard Scarry story called “The Best Mistake Ever”, in which Mother Cat sends Huckle to the store and he returns with nothing from her list. Instead of apples, he comes back with apple pie. Instead of potatoes, potato chips. Instead of oranges, orange soda. And so on.
Luckily for Huckle, they had surprise guests and the party food was just what they needed.
For a while, this story was one of my sons’ favorites so we read it over and over again. Mother Cat’s exclamation about party food has been indelibly burned into my mind.
These collard green wontons are definitely a party food. Being fried, I wouldn’t want to make them very often, (both for health and convenience reasons). But they are incredibly delicious and the perfect size for a shareable party appetizer. No forks needed, either, which gives them an edge on other messier appetizers. And did I mention how tasty they are? Because, YUM.
I first had a version of these when I was in college working as a server at a fancy restaurant in my town. Many a shift ended with a plateful of wontons enjoyed at the bar with friends.
If collard greens are new to you (or not new but gross) give this recipe a try. It may be just what you need to start loving these super nutritious greens. Preparation for the collards is simpler than you may think, too. A few minutes to get them ready and started cooking, then about forty minutes of hands-off cooking time covered on the stovetop.
(Incidentally, you can also follow the first three easy steps to cook collards as a side dish for a meal).
A few notes:
- The key to successful frying is a correct oil temperature. Too hot and the food is burned or undercooked on the inside. Too cool and the food absorbs too much oil and is soggy and chewy. Use a candy thermometer attached to the side of the pot to keep track of the oil temperature. Check it before starting and in between batches.
- I use canola oil for frying because it is cost efficient and doesn’t affect the final taste of the food. I get local, non-GMO canola oil at Costco, but if you can’t find any, remember that this is party food and you will be eating it in moderation anyway!
- Find wonton wrappers in the produce section of the grocery store. (Next to the wonton wrappers are egg roll wrappers– pick some up while you’re at it and try these incredible egg rolls too!).
- A deep fryer is not necessary for frying foods. I used to have one but got rid of it because, economy of space. Instead, use a sturdy, heavy pot. I use my large enamel cast-iron dutch oven, but I have also used one of my smaller pots to fry smaller batches.
Collard Green Wontons
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 lbs collard greens
- 2 C chicken broth
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 package wonton wrappers
- 2L canola oil for frying
1. Prepare collard greens: Rinse the leaves and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. Remove the stems by cutting down either side of the stem with the tip of a knife. Stack the leaves (without stems) and tightly roll into a log. Slice the roll into thin strips. Roughly chop the pieces with the knife a few times.
2. (Alternate pressure cooker instructions). Pour oil in a pan and heat over medium heat. Add onions and cook until starting to soften, about five minutes. Add minced garlic and stir, cooking thirty seconds or until fragrant. Dump in chopped collard greens and sprinkle with salt. Stir to mix the onions and collards evenly.
Pour chicken broth over the greens and cover the pan. Cook for about forty minutes, stirring twice during cooking, until collard greens are tender.
After forty minutes, remove the lid from the pan and increase the heat medium-high heat. Continue to cook the collards over for another ten minutes, until the remaining liquid is cooked off.
3. Add the cream cheese to a small mixing bowl and scoop the cooked collards on top. Stir well with a spatula to mix the cheese and collards together. Keep stirring until there are no more large chunks of cream cheese in the mixture.
Start heating the oil in a large pot, (I rinsed the pot used for collards and used it to fry the wontons too), and set a candy thermometer on the pot to keep track of the oil’s temperature. The oil needs to be 375°.
4. Fill a small ramekin with water, grab a kitchen towel to keep in reach, and set the bowl of collards and cream cheese and the package of wonton wrappers in front of you.
To form each wonton, take one wrapper and place a tablespoon of the collards mixture in the center. Dip your finger into the water and lightly wet the perimeter of the wrapper. Take two corners and pull them up to meet in the center, press the edges together. Fold the next corner up and press that edge. Fold the remaining corner up and press the remaining edge.
Keep wrapping wontons until you run out of filling. Set each one aside until you are ready to start frying them.
5. Once the oil is 375°, you can start frying the wontons. They only take about 1 minute to cook so be sure you are ready with a strainer and a plate with a couple paper towels on top to drain the oil.
Drop the formed wontons into the hot oil, being careful to not splash the oil. Add about 5-6 at a time, as long as they are not overly crowded in the pot. Cook the wontons for about 1 minute, until they are golden brown. Flip each wonton over for a couple of second to brown the tops, and then use a strainer to remove them to the plate to cool.
Check the oil temperature before adding a new batch to make sure it is still at 375°.
6. Let the wontons cool to the touch and then serve and enjoy! (As with most fried foods, they are best when served soon after cooking).
*The collards can also be quickly and easily prepared in an Instant Pot.