Friday, October 15, 2010

Gumbo Z'Herbes

Author's note: A Cajun contraction of "gumbo aux herbes," this dish is meatless for Lent and traditionally eaten on Maundy Thursday. It is supposed to contain seven green vegetables to bring seven new people to you who will bring you luck. But feel free to substitute other greens or shorten the list. Lengthy cooking time is a feature of Cajun cookery; I have more than halved the time this gumbo would spend on the stove in a Cajun household. Hopefully, it still brings luck. - from the cookbook, Heaven's Gate

Step One:

6 c. coarsely chopped spinach
6 c. coarsely chopped collards
4 c. coarsely chopped beet or turnip greens
4 c. coarsely chopped cabbage
2 c. coarsely chopped watercress
2 c. coarsely chopped dandelion greens or chicory
1 c. coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
8 c. vegetable stock

Step Two:

1/4 c. ghee or butter
2 T. minced fresh ginger
2 c. finely chopped celery or fennel
1 c. finely chopped green or red pepper
2 t. dried thyme
2-3 bay leaves

Step Five

1/4 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground allspice
1 t. black pepper
Cooked Rice

1. Place all chopped leafy vegetables and stock in large soup pot. Bring to boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer very slowly for thirty minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt ghee or butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add ginger, celery or fennel, peppers, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Set aside.
3. Drain green vegetables in a large sieve held over a bowl to catch the pot liquor (stock). Press out all the liquid with the back of a spoon. Coarsely grind - but do not puree - the vegetables on a food processor.
4. Add the greens to the skillet containing the celery and bell peppers. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally , for ten minutes.
5. meanwhile, measure six cups of the pot liquor back into the soup pot. Add the greens, cloves, allspice, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Partially cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Add salt to taste. To serve, place a mound of rice in the center of an individual bowl for each diner and pour the gumbo over it.

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