4.5
2 ratings

Green Gumbo

This hearty stew is said to have restorative powers
Green Gumbo
Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune; Shannon Kinsella/food styling

Green gumbo, a hearty stew of okra and greens, has roots in West African cuisine. In Creole cooking it's been given the French name "gumbo z'herbes."

This recipe is by Paul Fehribach, chef and co-owner of Big Jones in Chicago. The recipe originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

Notes

Chef Fehribach notes that each type of greens should be washed three times, and that it’s okay if the leaves are still wet when you use them. As you clean the vegetables, you will save the trimmings, stems, etc., as directed, to make the vegetable stock.

For the vegetable stock: prep time is 20 minutes and cook time is 4 to 6 hours. Makes 3 quarts.

For the toasted garlic in oil: prep time is 15 minutes and cook time is 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 2 cups oil.

Ingredients

For the gumbo:

  • 1/4 Cup toasted garlic oil (see recipe)
  • 1 1/2 pounds okra, sliced into thin rings (1/8 to 1/4 inch); frozen is okay
  • 3 large Spanish onions, split lengthwise, julienned
  • 4 Ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps very thinly sliced
  • 1 Pound tomatillos, husked, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 Cup finely grated fresh horseradish (may substitute jarred grated horseradish)
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, outer leaves and core removed and reserved, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 quarts green vegetable stock (see recipe)
  • 1 bunch collard greens, washed, stems removed and reserved, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, washed, lower stems removed and reserved, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, washed, lower stems removed and reserved, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch turnip greens, washed, stems removed and reserved, and leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 bunches Italian parsley, woody stems removed and reserved, leaves kept whole
  • 1/4 Cup toasted garlic (see recipe)
  • 1/4 Cup coarse kosher salt
  • 2 bottles (5 ounces each) Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce (jalapeno flavor)
  • 3 Tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/2 Cup sorghum molasses or clover honey
  • 2 bunches watercress, large stems removed and reserved, leaves kept whole
  • 1/4 Pound Thai basil, woody stems removed and reserved, leaves kept whole

For the vegetable stock:

  • Trimmings (see gumbo recipe)
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bulb fresh garlic
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 jalapenos, seeds removed and discarded
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice berries
  • 1 Tablespoon whole black pepper
  • 2 whole lemons

For the toasted garlic in oil:

  • 1 Cup fresh garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 Cups neutral vegetable oil such as untoasted sesame, safflower or rice bran oil

Directions

For the gumbo:

Step 1: In a large, heavy-bottom Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup toasted garlic oil over medium-high heat until aromatic and a slice of okra tossed in sizzles furiously. Add 3 large, julienned Spanish onions; cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until just a little straw-yellow color appears on the edges of the onions, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 2: Add 1 1/2 pounds sliced okra; cook, stirring, until its mucus is released, about 3 minutes.

Step 3: Reduce heat to medium-high; add 4 ounces thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, 1 pound diced tomatillos and 1/4 cup horseradish. Cook, stirring constantly, until they render their juices and wet the mixture, about 5 to 10 minutes. Use the back of a wooden spoon to mash the okra and tomatillos into a coarse mash.

Step 4: Working quickly, add 1 medium head chopped green cabbage; saute until it releases its aroma, 5 to 10 minutes. Add 1 quart vegetable stock, then 1 bunch chopped collard greens. Reduce heat to medium; cook until the collards and cabbage wilt back into the stew, about 30 minutes.

Step 5: Add another 1 quart of stock, 1 bunch chopped broccoli rabe and 1 bunch chopped mustard greens. Simmer, stirring the stew up over the fresh greens periodically to aid wilting, until the newly added greens wilt and render, becoming part of the stew, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 6: Add the final 1 quart of stock, 1 bunch chopped turnip greens, 2 bunches Italian parsley leaves and 1/4 cup toasted garlic. Once again, turn the stew over the newly added greens; simmer until the greens wilt and render into the stew, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 7: Add 1/4 cup kosher salt, 2 bottles (5 ounces each) Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce, 3 tablespoons ground black pepper, 6 bay leaves, and 1/2 cup sorghum or honey. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally from the bottom, about 2 hours.

Step 8: Fifteen minutes before serving, stir in 2 bunches of watercress and 1/4 pound Thai basil (leaves kept whole for both). Allow them to wilt and render into the stew, for just a few minutes. Check for seasonings, adding salt or Tabasco as desired. Serve. The gumbo is traditionally served with boiled rice, but is also delicious with tortillas or whole hominy. If refrigerated in an airtight container, the gumbo reheats well for up to 10 days.

For the vegetable stock:

Step 1: In a large stock pot, combine the trimmings (ends of the onion, the tips and stems of the okra, the shiitake stems, the outer green cabbage leaves, the cabbage core, the tomatillo husks, and any woody stems from the greens, and the parsley, watercress, and basil stems, reserving the leaves for the gumbo). Succulent stems can be sliced very thinly and added to the gumbo.

Step 2: Add 1 bunch fresh thyme, 1 bulb fresh garlic, 4 bay leaves, 3 jalapenos, 6 whole cloves, 6 whole allspice berries, and 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns. Peel the zest of 2 lemons with a vegetable peeler; add to the pot. Remove and discard the pith. Add the lemon flesh to the pot.

Step 3: Cover all the ingredients with water; simmer, 4 to 6 hours, adding more water if necessary to keep the ingredients submerged. (You could also cook 30 minutes in a pressure cooker.)

For the toasted garlic in oil:

Step 1: Coarsely grind 1 cup peeled garlic cloves in a food processor until the pieces are the size of panko breadcrumbs.

Step 2: In a heavy-bottomed stainless or enamel saucepan, place 2 cups vegetable oil and the garlic; stir to thoroughly immerse the garlic in the oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring often from the bottom, until oil begins to bubble. (The garlic will have a tendency to stick to the bottom and burn at worst, or cook unevenly, if not stirred regularly.) Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring, until the garlic renders its juices and the oil stops bubbling. The garlic will begin to fry.

Step 3: When the garlic approaches a light brown color and is delightfully aromatic, remove the pan from the heat but continue to stir until cool enough that the cooking has stopped. Let rest until the oil reaches room temperature. Measure ¼ cup oil for the gumbo; spoon out and drain ¼ cup of the garlic. Store the remaining oil and garlic in a sealable glass container in the refrigerator. Use the oil for sautes or sauces. Save the garlic to add to recipes when a rich toasted garlic flavor is desired.