Gumbo Z’herbes

Adopted from Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking by Toni Tipton Martin

All kinds of techniques give this dish body: Leah Chase’s version calls for a mix of roux and pureed vegetables to thicken; Nathanial Burton, coauthor of “Creole Feast: Fifteen Master Chefs of New Orleans Reveal Their Secrets,” thickens his green gumbo with a long, slow simmer, not a roux. This version leans Burton’s way, making it more like a dense stew, rather than a classic brown gumbo.

  • 1 pound collard greens
  • 3 pounds greens (such as mustard, collard, turnip greens, watercress, kale, chard, beet and carrot tops, spinach), washed, stemmed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 pound beef brisket or veal, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound smoked sausage, sliced into thick coins
  • 1/2 pound ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 to 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • Freshly cooked rice, for serving

  1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, combine the collards and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the collards are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the greens, cabbage, and 1 tablespoon salt to the pot. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, until the greens are very tender. (Depending upon the greens you choose, this could be over an hour.) Drain the greens in a colander, reserving the cooking liquid (the “potlikker”). Coarsely chop the greens. Measure out 2 cups of the potlikker and set aside. (Save the remainder in the refrigerator for another use; it has a lot of natural flavor, sweetness, and nutrition.)
  1. Season the brisket with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. In a large skillet, heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add the brisket, sausage, and ham and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to render the fat and brown the meats. Stir in the onions, green onions, bell pepper, celery, Chile pepper, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the dried thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and the cayenne and cook until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes longer.

  1. In the Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the cooked greens, the reserved 2 cups potlikker, and the browned meat and vegetables. Cook for 15 minutes to concentrate the flavors. Stir in the bay leaves and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the meats are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. After 30 minutes, taste and adjust the seasoning with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and fresh thyme. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Serves 8 to 10

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