Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Green Gumbo - Gumbo Z'herbes

A traditional gumbo made of multiple greens, and sometimes meatless on Fridays during Lent, but more often now made with an abundance of a wide variety of meats to be served on Holy Thursday before Easter..

Gumbo Z'herbes

Gumbo aux Herbes, better known as Gumbo Z'herbes, or just simply Green Gumbo, is a traditional Lenten dish here in The Deep South. I feel certain that its origins were based on a completely meatless gumbo, and while it is sometimes still served meatless during fasting Fridays of Lent, it is more often served with an over-abundance of meat, and most traditionally on Holy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter.  Frankly, while I do adore greens, I am much more fond of Gumbo Z'herbes flavored with the meats.

Green Gumbo can contain any mixture of a wide variety of green leafy vegetables, though it is always made with an odd number of them. It is said that for however many greens your Gumbo Z'herbes contains, it will be equal to the number of new friends you will make in the coming year, so the more, the merrier!

As always in The South, Gumbo Z'herbes recipes vary, especially when made meatless, and usually according to family tradition. Some people have no problem with using meat bones and stock or ham hocks to cook with, even on fasting days, so long as the meat itself is not consumed. Others say no meat should be permitted in any form. Some people also do not make a roux for their green gumbo, but frankly I like the flavor of it so I do use a small and light colored roux.  I also add the traditional trinity that many do not because I think it also enhances the flavor.

I like the method that Leah Chase, owner/chef at the Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans uses with pureeing the cooked greens, though I do reserve some of them still in chunks just so that you can see some of the pieces in the finished dish.

Most southerners know that the origins of the word gumbo is African, and actually means okra, and some even argue that if it doesn't contain okra it isn't gumbo. Traditionally a gumbo without okra would have the addition of file powder added at the end after removing the pot from the heat (though I prefer sprinkling it over individual servings myself) and would be called a file gumbo. Truth be known, all the rules about gumbo, okra and file have all been broken across the generations and since I often add file even with okra gumbos because I like the flavor, I am one of the rule breakers.

To start the gumbo, wash the greens thoroughly (several times if necessary) and strip leaves away from the stems. Discard stems. Rough chop the greens and add them to a tall stockpot and cover with water. I used collards, turnip greens, cabbage, kale and spinach. Add one whole onion chopped and the garlic, stir well and bring to a boil.


Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Scoop greens out of the cooking liquid (you'll want to reserve at least 2 quarts of the liquid) and set aside 2 cups of drained greens.


Puree the remaining greens in a food processor and set aside.  In a heavy bottomed Dutch oven or pot, heat the bacon fat and stir in the flour; cook, stirring constantly until the mixture turns the color of peanut butter.


Add the chopped onion, bell pepper and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Scoop out 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid and begin slowly stirring that into the roux.


You'll add it a little at a time until it is well blended, and then continue adding the remaining liquid until you have added the 2 quarts.  Add the pureed greens and the reserved whole greens to the pot.


Stir in seasonings. If you are doing completely meat free, stop here and simply allow the gumbo to simmer. If you are using a ham bone or ham hocks, add those here. Cut any meats you are adding into equal sized pieces, and saute in a separate skillet with a bit of canola oil. Add the meat and pan drippings to the pot of greens. For this recipe I used a ham hock, Conecuh sausage, smoked ham, cooked bacon, Italian sausage and Mexican chorizo. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1-1/2 hours.


Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve over hot rice, sprinkle with file, if desired, and pass hot sauce at the table.

Recipe: Green Gumbo - Gumbo Z'herbes

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 45 min |Cook time: 1 hour 30 min | Yield: About 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients
  • 5 bunches, or more, of assorted greens (see note)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 of garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of bacon fat, vegetable or canola oil, or a combination
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 quarts of reserved cooking water
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup of chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup of chopped celery
  • Ham hock or ham bone
  • 2 or 3 pounds of assorted diced meats (see below)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt, or to taste
  • About 6 turns of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Red pepper flakes, optional
  • File powder, optional
  • Hot pepper sauce, to taste, optional
Instructions

Wash greens thoroughly (several times if necessary) and strip leaves away from the stems. Discard stems. Rough chop the greens and add them to a tall stockpot and cover with water. Add the onion and garlic, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Scoop greens out of the cooking liquid (you'll want to reserve 2 quarts of the liquid) and set aside 2 cups of drained greens. Puree the remaining greens in a food processor and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed Dutch oven or pot, heat the bacon fat and/or oil and stir in the flour; cook, stirring constantly until the mixture turns the color of peanut butter. Add the 1 cup chopped onion and the bell pepper and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Scoop out 2 cups of the cooking liquid and begin slowly stirring that into the roux, until well blended; continue until you have added 2 quarts of the liquid to the roux. Add the pureed greens, plus the reserved whole greens to the pot, and stir in the seasonings. If you are doing completely meat free, stop here and simply allow the gumbo to simmer. If you are using a ham bone or ham hocks, add those here. Cut any other meat you are using into equal sized pieces, and saute in a separate skillet with a bit of canola oil. Add the meat and pan drippings to the pot of greens. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1-1/2 hours.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve over hot rice, sprinkle with file, if desired, and pass hot sauce at the table. Freezes beautifully.

Cook’s Notes: I used a ham hock, Conecuh sausage, smoked ham, cooked bacon, Italian sausage, and Mexican chorizo. For greens I used collards, turnip greens, cabbage, kale and spinach. 

Suggested greens: Choose at least five different forms of greens, though you can actually use as many as you like, but keep it an odd number of them for good luck. Collards, turnips or mustard greens, kale, spinach, watercress, arugula, sorrel, chicory, cabbage, green leaf lettuce (not iceberg), carrot or beet tops, flat leaf parsley, dandelion greens are a few good choices. You can substitute frozen greens for part, but not all of the greens in the recipe, but try to use as much fresh as possible to balance it out.

Suggested meats to add: 3 to 4 pounds of a mixture of meats can be used, including Mexican Chorizo sausage, Italian sausage, Bratwurst or other raw ground pork (remove from casing and brown), smoked meats such as ham, smoked sausage, ham hocks, smoked turkey legs, wings, or smoked neck bones, stew meat, bacon, veal, or brisket, are all good choices. Cut any other meat you are using into equal sized pieces, and saute in a separate skillet with a bit of canola oil. Then add the meat and pan drippings to the pot of greens.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on April 6, 2011

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10 comments:

  1. My ideal weekend, would be to stay with you and have you cook me all these great southern recipes! This one looks great, anne

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're so sweet Anne - have a beautiful day!

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  3. I am from the south so I am all over this! Looks insanely wonderful! Just found your blog through another site and love it! Glad to find another southern foodie! You should submit something to my next recipe challenge. Its so much fun and a great way to draw traffic, etc. You can see the details on my sidebar- just click on the button! Cheers and have a blessed day!
    Xo
    jessica
    www.kitchenbelleicious.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've not heard of this before but have an adventurous spirit that will lead me to it. It sounds really delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  5. Mary if I am ever in your neck of the woods I am going to look you up, knock on your door, and have you cook me a meal. Every time I come here, I drool. Wow you are a great cook!
    Robin

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  6. Oh, just once I would love to mosey on down to your place for a meal! This is so fabulous =)

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  7. I've never had anything like this Mary....I would love to try it, especially with all the meats you've included.
    It sounds like there are several of us wanting to come to your house to eat!

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  8. THANK YOU so much for this. As a fairly new vegan who grew up in Louisiana and MISSES the food, I am so excited to try this! I can add the meat later for the family, and everyone will be happy!!

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  9. To me it has to contain okra, not because of some rule, but mainly because I LOVE OKRA!

    If you keep your file in a cabinet is that a file cabinet? (he he, I know how it's pronounced)

    ReplyDelete

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