Green Gumbo

When served in the Lenten season, this dish is traditionally meatless. In the wintertime, however, ham and andouille sausage enrich its flavors. Gumbo file powder lends its unique character to the affair, and it’s worth trying for that reason alone. For a true Creole-style feast, serve with a side of white or dirty rice, alongside grilled ham and boiled crawfish.

Green Gumbo Recipe 

INGREDIENTS

For the stock:

1 knuckle smoked ham hock or slab bacon
4 qt water
6 bay leaves
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole allspice berries, optional

For the roux:

1 cup AP flour
1 cup unsalted butter

For the gumbo:

1 lb smoked andouille sausage, slab bacon, or tasso ham, optional
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large red onion, small-diced
1 large yellow sweet onion, small-diced
1 small head celery heart, small-diced
1 large each red and green bell peppers, small-diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cayenne
2 tbsp gumbo file or any Cajun-Creole spice that includes file powder
2 tbsp dried shrimp, optional
1 bunch curly kale, cut into small strips
1 bunch collard greens, cut into small strips
2 tsp Tabasco sauce

INSTRUCTIONS

For the stock:

  1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil; reduce to a low simmer and cook until 1 quart less, about 1 ½-2 hours.
  2. Let cool and strain; pick meat from ham and set both aside. There should be about 3 quarts of stock; you can use your preferred alternative stock for the same volume instead of using smoked ham hocks.

For the roux:

  1. Combine flour and butter and cook under medium heat, stirring frequently until golden brown.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to carry over cooking until room temperature. Set aside.

For the gumbo:

  1. Heat a heavy-bottom casserole or cast-iron pot. If using andouille or other smoked meats, sauté briefly with a little oil and allow the fat to render and set aside, about 5-8 minutes.
  2. Adjust to medium-high heat and add garlic, sautéing until lightly browned about 3 minutes.
  3. Add onions, celery, and peppers; sauté and stir frequently until soft, about 18-20 minutes. Add tomato paste, cayenne, gumbo file, and dried shrimp (if using) and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  4. Next, add kale and collards and cook briefly until they start to wilt, about 5-8 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a steady simmer and place the lid on the pot with a small gap to allow steam to escape.
  5. Braise for 45 minutes to an hour until greens are tender. Stir the roux and gradually add into the stew to thicken as needed: it should be slightly runny and thinly coat the back of a spoon. Add the cooked meats back into the pot and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Recipe, Story, and Styling by Rafe Vencio / Photography by Dave Bryce 

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