Friday, April 6, 2012

Green Gumbo (Gumbo Z'Herbes)

Traditionally made on Holy Thursday to fill the belly before fasting and then feastingon Good Friday, green gumbo, also known as gumbo z'herbes is a Lenten tradition in Cajun country. Of course, Good Friday is reserved for meatless meals, but this version has the addition of smoked ham hock as well as andouille sausage (cause, you know, we Southerners LOVE us some pork). 

So, how is green gumbo different from regular ol' gumbo? It's the addition of greens, typically collards, turnip greens or mustard greens. Traditionally, the greens would be a mix of several greens; I like to use a pound of each green for my green gumbo.

Green Gumbo (Gumbo Z'Herbes)
adapted from Simply Recipes

1 cup oil or lard
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
1 ham hock
3 lbs collard, turnip or mustard greens, chopped (I used 1lb of each)
1 lb smoked andouille sausage, sliced
File powder (optional)
2 scallions, sliced thinly

Bring 10 cups of water to a simmer in a large pot.

Heat the oil/lard over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot; stir in the flour to create a roux and mix to ensure there are no lumps. Cook the roux over medium-low heat until deep, dark brown (about the color of chocolate).

This is when I realized I would need a bigger pot...

Add the holy trinity (the onion, pepper and celery); increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the bay leaves and Cajun/Creole seasoning. Slowly stir in the hot water; the roux will seize up - keep whisking until all of the water and roux are mixed in a satiny stock.

Add the ham hock and greens. Taste and adjust the salt and/or Cajun/Creole seasoning as needed. Bring JUST to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer GENTLY for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the meat is falling off of the ham hock. Remove the bone and discard; chop the meat and return it to the pot.

*I had some leftover hock meat that was already removed from the bone and chopped*

Add the andouille; cook for 15 minutes. Serve with file powder if desired, but remember not to add the powder until after the gumbo has been taken off of the heat; it is best to ladle out individual portions of the gumbo and let each guest add their own file if desired.

Serve over rice; garnish with scallions.


  1. You make that look almost irresistable, I almost always make gumbo with loads of seafood and meats so this wil be wonderful to use all that kale in the back yard.

  2. Kale would be great in this! You can also use spinach, chard, or really, any good dark green; I like to use a combination, depending on what looks good at the local market.

    My mom LOVES kale - do you ever make kale chips?