Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Green Gumbo - Gumbo Z'herbes

Gumbo Z'herbes is a traditional green gumbo made with multiple greens, a wide variety of meats and traditionally served on Holy Thursday before Easter. Sometimes it is prepared meatless to be served during Lent..
Gumbo Z'herbes is a traditional green gumbo made with multiple greens, a wide variety of meats and traditionally served on Holy Thursday before Easter. Sometimes it is prepared meatless to be served during Lent.

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, though it is an excellent dish served anytime for us lovers of all things greens.

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 traditionally, 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 filé 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 filé gumbo. Truth be known, all the rules about gumbo, okra and filé have all been broken across the generations and since I often add filé 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.

For more of my favorite gumbo recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!



Green Gumbo - Gumbo Z'herbes

Green Gumbo - Gumbo Z'herbes

Yield: About 8 to 10 servings
Author: Deep South Dish
Prep time: 45 MinCook time: 1 H & 30 MTotal time: 2 H & 15 M
A traditional green gumbo made with multiple greens, a wide variety of meats and while good anytime, it's a traditional meal served on Holy Thursday before Easter. Sometimes it is prepared meatless to be served during Lent.

Ingredients

  • 5 bunches, or more, assorted greens (see note below)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup bacon fat, vegetable or canola oil, or a combination
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts reserved cooking water
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • Ham hock or ham bone
  • 2 or 3 pounds assorted diced meats (see below)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon 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 freshly grated nutmeg
  • Red pepper flakes, optional
  • Filépowder, optional
  • Hot peppers (like Trappey's), optional
  • Hot sauce, to taste, optional

Instructions

  1. Wash greens thoroughly (several times if necessary) and strip leaves away from the stems. Discard stems.
  2. Rough chop the greens and add them to a tall stockpot and cover with water.
  3. Add the onion and garlic, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Cut any other meat you are using into equal sized pieces, and sauté in a separate skillet with a bit of canola oil. Add the meat and pan drippings to the pot of greens.
  10. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1-1/2 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  11. Serve over hot rice, sprinkle with filé, if desired, and pass hot peppers and hot sauce at the table. Freezes beautifully.

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.

Recommended Products:

Greens, Gumbo, Ham, Ham Bone, Smoked Sausage, Soups and Stews, Vegetable Gumbo, Vegetables
Main Dish, Dinner
American, Southern
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Posted by on April 6, 2011

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