FB Plugin

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Gumbo Z'herbes

I saw the original recipe in the May 2013 issue of Food & Wine magazine.  It's a meat 'n' greens stew, and takes advantage of all the tasty spring greens hitting the markets (or coming up in your garden) at this time of year.  As a stew, you can make it in advance very nicely...the first time I tried this recipe, I cooked it fully in the morning and put it in the crockpot to keep warm until we got home that night.  It also freezes beautifully.

Btw, "z'herbes" is shortening of "fines herbes"...a mix of fragrant, flavorful green herbs such as tarragon, rosemary, thyme, parsley, lavender and so on.  It's pronounced "zayrb", if you're a French linguistics nerd like me ;)

The OR calls for particular amounts of particular greens and particular amounts of particular cuts of pork...I think of it more as guidelines ;)  I LOVE that I can throw in that half a head of cabbage that's left after making cabbage 3 different ways for a regular side dish, the rest of the collard greens left over after making sausage-stuffed collards, the nubbin of romaine lettuce left over from 2 salads.  Use turnip greens, beet greens, mustard greens, chard, kale, spinach, collards, spring mix, romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce...about 3 lbs. of whatever is green in your fridge or garden.

And you can throw in handfuls of oddball greens like carrot tops (if you get carrots with the frondy greens still attached), second-year parsley (oddly, my parsley survived our winter and is coming back up and preparing to bolt as biennial plants do), watercress or arugula that you scavenge out of your early garden.

Clockwise from left: Ham hock, chopped hamsteak
with thyme, andouille
I'm also using up the last of our locally-raised hog.  When you buy a whole animal like that, you wind up with...well...weird bits.  Bacon ends.  Bony sirloin roasts.  Smoked hambones.  Tiny pork chops that are too little to serve by themselves.  I'm throwing all that stuff in this stew.  You can use fresh pork shoulder or loin, smoked pork, sausage links (andouille is traditional, and is the only thing I've bought special for this stew), ham hocks, hamsteak, chopped ham, neck bones...about 3 lbs. total.

When you chop up all those greens, it's a LOT.  You'll need an 8 quart or larger pot.  And then you only add 2 quarts of water to that pile.  It seems like too little.  It's not.  Trust me.  The greens cook down and give off their own liquid to make a flavorful broth that the stew is built on.  You do not want too much water here.  Here's how to tell if your tiny amount of water is boiling when you can't see it under a mess o' greens...put the pot lid on, turn the heat to high, and when there's condensation on the underside of the lid, you're good to go.

Lastly, the OR calls for file powder which I don't keep in my pantry.  File is a flavoring as well as thickening ingredient.  I add extra flour to compensate for the lack of file.  Use 2 tbsp flour instead of 4 tbsp and 1 1/2 tsp file powder if you want.  You can always add some beurre manie at the end if your stew seems too watery.

Gumbo Z'herbes
Makes enough to feed a small army

3 lbs. mixed greens, stemmed and coarsely chopped, such as turnip, beet, mustard, collards, chard, kale, lettuce (of any type), cabbage
2 cups herby greens (carrot tops, watercress, arugula, parsley)
1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 bunch scallions or chives, coarsley chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 quarts water
4 tbsp flour
3 lbs. mixed pork, trimmed of fat and gristle and cut up (such as bacon ends, smoked hocks, hamsteak, andouille sausage, fresh pork shoulder, pork loin, pork chops...don't cut up really bony parts like sirloin ends or hocks)
1 1/2 tsp thyme
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
beurre manie or file powder, if desired/needed

To serve: rice, hot sauce, vinegar

Put the coarsely chopped and washed greens in a very large pot along with onions, garlic and scallions/chives.  Add 2 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and simmer covered 30 minutes.  Stir once or twice.

Strain the greens from the liquid (save the liquid!).  Add greens in batches to a food processor along with flour and pulse until they're a coarse puree.  Set greens puree aside.

Return broth to the pot and bring up to the boil.  Add any bone-in, smoked (hocks, bacon ends) or uncooked meats to the pot.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne if desired (I actually don't add any). Reduce heat to simmer and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.  Remove any bone-in parts to a cutting board.

Add remaining meat, thyme and greens back to the pot.  Simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.

Cut meat off any removed bony parts and add it back to the pot.  Stir in beurre manie or file powder, if using, and serve over rice with hot sauce and vinegar. Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment