Wednesday, March 3, 2010

gumbo z'herbes

Gumbo is a wonderful medley of cultures and flavors which thrives in the melting pot of New Orleans. I never turn down a gumbo, and have been told I make a damn fine roux especially for a girl from Alaska.

A special gumbo is gumbo z'herbes, which is made with a variety of different greens. In true New Orleans fashion, you cook 'em down with some meat and serve it up on rice. But that description does not do it justice.

I've only had it once, served up by Leah Chase. And if I were not atheist, I have no doubt there would be angels singing. It was one of those transcendent moments and took my breath away. It is that amazing.

The thing is, it's not a common dish. Traditionally it's only made for Good Friday and without meat. Being in New Orleans though, meat got added back in, and now it's more of a Lenten dish in general.

Know what time it is now? It's LENT! And I want me some gumbo z'herbes! And I want to see my friends. So I thought I'd invite Eve over to help me make it and we'd have a few friends over ... but then I thought, "Hm. Why not invite a whole bunch of people!" And suddenly I'm thinking of needing more bowls and bigger pots.

The thing about gumbo z'herbes is that you need like 15 types of greens - so it sure seems easy to me to make up a whole lot. And on rice, with some French bread - not too expensive to make. I'm always buying all kinds of greens anyway. Sure wish I'd grown more ... oh well. That's why we have farmers markets.

So, here's a recipe that's an amalgamation of a whole bunch of different types, and I will likely do something quite similar (though I want to get to 15 greens! They say however many types of greens in is how many new friends you'll make that year):

11 types greens

1 small bunch arugula
1 small bunch kale
1 bunch kohlrabi
1 bunch beet greens
1 bag spinach
1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch swiss chard
1 bunch bok choi
1/2 head cabbage
1/2 head iceberg lettuce

(other types greens one can use: carrot greens, chicory, watercress, pepper grass, turnip greens, radish greens, nasturtiums, etc.)


1 1/2 pounds andouille
1 pound cooked beef brisket
1/2 pound tasso
(can also use ham, stew meat, pickle pork)
1 pound bacon, cooked and drippings saved to make roux
1 cup flour for roux


1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper
4 stalks chopped celery
1 large bunch chopped shallots
1 bunch chopped parsley
1 bunch fennel
4 minced jalapenos
3 tablespoons vinegar
salt, pepper, hot sauce

How to make it

Strip the leaves off all the greens, removing the woody stems. Soak in large bowl in cold water, drain, soak again until the water runs clear. Stuff all the greens (omit the shallots) in a large stock pot and add 2 quarts water. Cover and steam until wilted, about 30 minutes. Drain greens and reserve the liquid (pot likker!) and chop greens fine or use a blender (blender is the preferred method). Fry off the bacon, remove then add about a cup of flour to the bacon drippings and make a roux. Once roux is ready add the chopped seasonings (celery, bell pepper, onion, shallots, jalapenos, garlic). Cut the meats (andouille, bacon, tasso, brisket) into small pieces and place in stock pot. After the seasonings are translucent, add to the stock pot with pot likker, and meats, and bring to a boil. Add the greens, parsley, fennel, salt pepper, vinegar and hot sauce, bring to a boil then simmer until thick. Serve over rice or grits, with some cornbread on the side.

1 comment:

  1. Sadness, folks up here in the North don't even know that beet greens, mustard greens, and collard greens are different things.

    This truly does sound heavenly and you've inspired me to consider it for my next big cooking challenge. D.C. could always use more soul. ;) Let me know how it turns out!