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Lenten Gumbo...


SanaaSol
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Hi everyone,

I did a search but couldn't really come up with an answer for this.

I'd really like to try making Gumbo des Herbes / Gumbo Zaab (?) next week, but I have a question regarding the greens. So far, I've read that you're supposed to use an odd number of greens for good luck...

Does anyone know if scallions count as greens in this case?

I know, it's a weird question, just curious if anyone could help me out. :smile:

Thanks!

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Are you making a completely meatless gumbo verte? I'm probably making one this week, but it will have a tiny bit of seasoning meat in it---so it won't be on Good Friday! Got some nice spinach, mustard, and turnips at the farmer's market, as well as beet tops....and my next door neighbor hasn't mowed his lawn this year, so I might even find some peppergrass (ha!)

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Here is some information that might be of use to you.

In the original TP Cookbook, the greens called for in the recipe are: cabbage, radish, turnips, mustard, spinach, watercress, parsley and green onions (8 greens).

In the Time-Life Acadian-Creole book, "…it (gumbo z'herbes) is said to have been originated by the superstitious Creoles especially for Good Friday when, it was believed, you would have good luck for the coming year if you ate seven greens and met seven people during the day." The recipe in this book calls for: collard or mustard greens, spinach, beet or turnip greens, chicory, cabbage, watercress, parsley, along with tops of carrots and radishes.

In Leon Soniat's LA BOUCHE CREOLE: "One of the greatest of these (gumbos), actually termed the king of the gumbos is Gumbo Z'herbes, the gumbo of herbs or green gumbo. It was traditionally served on Good Friday. It seems that after so many days of abstinence and fasting during Lent, observed in the predominantly Catholic community, one needed the sort of revivification or rejuvenation given by this conglomeration of greens. To get all the greens necessary, one had to go to the French Market. Well I do remember early in the morning, almost at daybreak, how we would set out, for we lived within walking distance of the old French Market. When we got to the vegetable stands, where we bought the ingredients for the gumbo z'herbes, there would be the vegetable men or hawkers and their cries of 'GET YOUR GREENS, LADY, GET YOUR TWELVE GREENS, GET YOUR FIFTEEN GREENS, GET YOUR SEVEN GREENS, ….the numbers changed as we passed by each of the different stands.

Marcelle Bienvenu

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Here is some information that might be of use to you. 

In the original TP Cookbook, the greens called for in the recipe are:  cabbage, radish, turnips, mustard, spinach, watercress, parsley and green onions (8 greens). 

In the Time-Life Acadian-Creole book, "…it (gumbo z'herbes) is said to have been originated by the superstitious Creoles especially for Good Friday when, it was believed, you would have good luck for the coming year if you ate seven greens and met seven people during the day."  The recipe in this book calls for:  collard or mustard greens, spinach, beet or turnip greens, chicory, cabbage, watercress, parsley, along with tops of carrots and radishes. 

In Leon Soniat's LA BOUCHE CREOLE:  "One of the greatest of these (gumbos), actually termed the king of the gumbos is Gumbo Z'herbes, the gumbo of herbs or green gumbo.  It was traditionally served on Good Friday.  It seems that after so many days of abstinence and fasting during Lent, observed in the predominantly Catholic community, one needed the sort of revivification or rejuvenation given by this conglomeration of greens.  To get all the greens necessary, one had to go to the French Market.  Well I do remember early in the morning, almost at daybreak, how we would set out, for we lived within walking distance of the old French Market.  When we got to the vegetable stands, where we bought the ingredients for the gumbo z'herbes, there would be the vegetable men or hawkers and their cries of 'GET YOUR GREENS, LADY, GET YOUR TWELVE GREENS, GET YOUR FIFTEEN GREENS, GET YOUR SEVEN GREENS, ….the numbers changed as we passed by each of the different stands.

Marcelle Bienvenu

Thank you so much Marcelle for this information and history behind this soup. I remember seeing Emeril Lagasse make a soup like this on his show The Essence of Emeril a few years ago and it looked so delicious. From what you've written here, I assume that, like the number and types of greens used, it's pretty much up to the cook as to what else goes into it. Since I'm "just" a Southern Baptist and really have no restrictions on whether or not to use meat on Good Friday, any suggestions on what types of meat/stock to use would be appreciated.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Edited to delete double posting. Computer error message indicated that first post did not go through.

Edited by divalasvegas (log)

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Classically/traditionally, the broth from the greens usually suffices. However, if you want to add chicken stock, that would be fine. Here is a recipe from my files:

Gumbo z'herbes

Makes 10 to 12 servings

1 pound collard or mustard greens (or both)

1 pound spinach

1 pound turnip greens (optional)

1 pound green cabbage leaves, cut into strips

1 large bunch fresh watercress (optional)

1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon ground thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 pound salt meat or ham, cut into small cubes

1 brunch green onions, trimmed and chopped

1 cup chopped onions

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Wash and pat dry all the fresh greens. Put the greens in a large, deep pot and add enough water to cover. Add the cayenne, black pepper, bay leaves, thyme and allspice. Bring the mixture to a boil, pressing the greens down into the water. Cook until the greens are very tender and are falling apart. Drain and reserve the looking liquid. You should have three to four quarts. Set the liquid aside.

Chop the greens, either with a knife or kitchen shears, or you can pulse them (in batches) in a food processor, but don't puree.

In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, combine the oil and flour over medium heat. Stirring constantly, make a roux the color of peanut butter. Add the salt meat, green onions, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften, about five minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid and stir to blend. Add the chopped greens and simmer, partially covered, for about two hours. Adjust seasoning to taste.

The gumbo can be served over rice. And don't forget the French bread. Oh, and I like to serve this with potato salad or baked sweet potatoes!

I must tell you thought, that this isn't a thick traditional gumbo, but rather a more brothy one that is not only filling, but full of flavor and also nutritious. The fun of this is to try and find as many fresh greens as possible. If you can't find all that I have listed, you can use whatever greens you can find. I suggest that you go to your market and select seasonal greens (or use frozen ones) that suit your taste buds. Making and serving this gumbo is a delightful tradition, and I am always encouraging people to learn about how our local dishes developed through the years.

Enjoy!

Marcelle Bienvenu

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Classically/traditionally, the broth from the greens usually suffices.  However, if you want to add chicken stock, that would be fine.  Here is a recipe from my files:...............

.............. The gumbo can be served over rice.  And don't forget the French bread.  Oh, and I like to serve this with potato salad or baked sweet potatoes!

  I must tell you thought, that this isn't a thick traditional gumbo, but rather a more brothy one that is not only filling, but full of flavor and also nutritious.  The fun of this is to try and find as many fresh greens as possible.  If you can't find all that I have listed, you can use whatever greens you can find. I suggest that you go to your market and select seasonal greens (or use frozen ones) that suit your taste buds.  Making and serving this gumbo is a delightful tradition, and I am always encouraging people to learn about how our local dishes developed through the years. 

Enjoy!

Marcelle Bienvenu

Thank you, thank you, thank you Marcelle, this looks wonderful and thank God, something different for me to feed the family/friends. :biggrin: We have a rather historical market in Washington, DC called the Eastern Market and I'm sure that they will have pretty much everything I'll need to make this. Actually, this looks so good, I don't see why it should be relegated to only one day a year. A little fried chicken with that potato salad couldn't hurt either. :wink:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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John Folse lists it as 7 different greens but if by any chance you can get head on shrimp, boil the heads for 20-30 minutes for a great quick stock that will also give you some great color.

The odd number is traditionally very important and I believe that it goes way back to when the catholics prohibited meat on every friday not just during lent. As it is now, lent just means that you are "forced" to eat crawfish on fridays. We sure got it bad in LA.

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John Folse lists it as 7 different greens but if by any chance you can get head on shrimp, boil the heads for 20-30 minutes for a great quick stock that will also give you some great color.

The odd number is traditionally very important and I believe that it goes way back to when the catholics prohibited meat on every friday not just during lent.  As it is now, lent just means that you are "forced" to eat crawfish on fridays.  We sure got it bad in LA.

Thanks Graham. I had been wondering about a seafood version of this soup since I recall seeing somewhere recipes for various West African soups featuring some type of greens and the inclusion of either fish, crab, shrimp, crawfish or even some type of local dried or smoked fish. I can't recall whether or not this version originates in Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, or more likely each country in that part of the world has it's own version.

What jumps out at me in reviewing the various recipes for this soup is the non-inclusion of okra. I thought that one of the "rules" of gumbo is that it always contains okra, which is one my favorite :wub: vegetables. Actually I think adding a few slices of tender, young okra near the end of the cooking process might be quite tasty indeed.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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John Folse lists it as 7 different greens but if by any chance you can get head on shrimp, boil the heads for 20-30 minutes for a great quick stock that will also give you some great color.

The odd number is traditionally very important and I believe that it goes way back to when the catholics prohibited meat on every friday not just during lent.  As it is now, lent just means that you are "forced" to eat crawfish on fridays.  We sure got it bad in LA.

Thanks Graham. I had been wondering about a seafood version of this soup since I recall seeing somewhere recipes for various West African soups featuring some type of greens and the inclusion of either fish, crab, shrimp, crawfish or even some type of local dried or smoked fish. I can't recall whether or not this version originates in Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, or more likely each country in that part of the world has it's own version.

What jumps out at me in reviewing the various recipes for this soup is the non-inclusion of okra. I thought that one of the "rules" of gumbo is that it always contains okra, which is one my favorite :wub: vegetables. Actually I think adding a few slices of tender, young okra near the end of the cooking process might be quite tasty indeed.

I bet okra would be really good in a Gumbo Z'Herbes. None of my recipes call for it. In "Cajun-Creole Cooking," Terry Thompson includes oysters. Haven't made it, but I would imagine the oysters pair really well with the greens. Most gumbo recipes that don't include okra call for adding file powder at the end of cooking or to individual servings. Thompson's recipe calls for stirring it in at the end. File goes really well with greens (IMO). Thompson's recipe also calls for ham and pork, so I guess it wouldn't really work for Lent.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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If I was more technically apept, I'd post some lovely photos of my green gumbo, which now sits cooling in the fridge. I ended up using rainbow chard, green onions & parsley, (homegrown), cabbage (from the St. Patrick's day parade), spinach & bulb spring onions (farmer's market), as well as some garlic. Beautiful color!

RE: gumbo w/ or w/o okra....there are no consistent gumbo rules. Every person seems to have a particular style. I daresay most S LA gumbos don't contain okra, and almost as many don't contain any file. Some don't even start with a roux. Some folks have specific standards, like "never combine crab & okra" or "never combine okra & file" or "never cook the file in the gumbo, only add it at the end". But for every rule, I can point to dozens of practicing home cooks who routinely do exactly the opposite! Thick, thin, okra, file, seafood, meatless, it's all good. Except for maybe the weenie or spam gumbos....even I will draw the line somewhere.

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Sounds great. As for okra, you just have to be careful with it. Combination wise you would only want to avoid meats such as wild ducks which tend to not go with okra traditionally. However assuming you are making your own roux( in the future obvioulsy) you would use much less as the thickening power of the okra itself makes the roux merely a flavor addition. That said there is little else in this world that I would prefer to a warm baguette and a bowl of shrimp and okra gumbo with andouille and tasso.

If  I was more technically apept, I'd post some lovely photos of my green gumbo, which now sits cooling in the fridge.  I ended up using rainbow chard, green onions & parsley, (homegrown), cabbage (from the St. Patrick's day parade), spinach & bulb spring onions (farmer's market), as well as some garlic.  Beautiful color!

RE: gumbo w/ or w/o okra....there are no consistent gumbo rules.  Every person seems to have a particular style.  I daresay most S LA gumbos don't contain okra, and almost as many don't contain any file.  Some don't even start with a roux.  Some folks have specific standards, like "never combine crab & okra" or "never combine okra & file" or "never cook the file in the gumbo, only add it at the end".  But for every rule, I can point to dozens of practicing home cooks who routinely do exactly the opposite!  Thick, thin, okra, file, seafood, meatless, it's all good.  Except for maybe the weenie or spam gumbos....even I will draw the line somewhere.

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Oysters! I hadn't thought of adding oysters shellfishfiend. How about a big ol' plate of fried oysters on the side? Betcha that would be quite tasty too.

Thanks for the gumbo advice HungryC. I wonder how many delicious dishes have been created by breaking or ignoring the so-called "rules?" I hope you get around to posting pics of your green gumbo; sounds wonderful. I think drawing a line in the sand by not adding Spam or hotdogs makes perfect sense to me, but I'm sure there's someone out there who's done it! :laugh:

I appreciate the tips on how much roux to use when adding okra Graham. It never occured to me to take that into consideration, so you probably saved me from concocting an ugly, gummy mess.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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