Gumbo z’Herbes

28 Mar

Gumbo z'Herbes

M: In an earlier post, we touched on the argument that “greens is greens”.  This dish, also called “Green Gumbo” does away with the concern of differentiating between greens by using as many different types as you can get your hands on.  It’s origins were as a meatless meal either served on Holy Thursday or prepared on Holy Thursday to be served on Good Friday, but at some point plenty of meat (and I mean plenty!)  began to appear in many versions.  I’m not sure how that fits into the Lenten schedule.  Some say nine different kinds of greens should be used, nine being a holy number.  Others offer that the more abundant the variety, the more friends will be made in the year ahead.  Whatever the particulars of your tradition, this once a year meal deserves to be part of it..  We made it a little early so you’d have time to shop for the numerous ingredients.

Pureeing those greens and stirring them into an increasingly murky pot, I was unsure about this one.  But as each meat was added and the spices began to merge, the gumbo came together into something outstanding.  Still murky, but so tasty.  I can’t help but wonder if those who were preparing it on Holy Thursday to serve on Good Friday switched over because no one could bear the wait, although the longer this one sat on the stove, the better it got.  A little time consuming to put this one together, but it does not disappoint.  That’s a lot of greens.

Rinsing Greens Cooking Greens Pureed Greens
Drumettes Meat and Greens Nearly Gumbo

Recipe: Gumbo z’Herbes

Summary: A Spring tradition rich with a variety of meats and more greens than you can shake a stick at. From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook


  • 2 Ham Shanks
  • 1 Gal. Water
  • 6-8 Lb Various Greens (7 to 11 of the following: Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens, Spinach, Cabbage, Carrot Tops, Beet Tops, Arugula, Parsley, Green Onions, Watercress, Romaine Lettuce, Curly Endive, Kale, Radish Tops, Pepper Grass)
  • 3 Yellow Onions, roughly chopped
  • 8 Garlic Gloves, peeled
  • 2 Lb Fresh Hot Sausage
  • 1 Lb Chicken Drumettes
  • 1 Lb Andouille Sausage, cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 1 Lb Stew Beef, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 Lb Pork Sausage
  • 8 oz. Ham, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 c AP Flour
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 3 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp File Powder (if desired)
  • Cooked Rice, for serving


  1. Bring ham hocks to boil in water in a pot and reduce to simmer until needed.
  2. Thoroughly wash then drain greens.
  3. Bring greens, onions and garlic to boil in a very large pot and reduce to simmer until tender (about 45 minutes).
  4. Transfer greens to a bowl to cool, reserving water.
  5. Once greens have cooled, puree in small batches in food processor and set aside.
  6. Cook hot sausage in a skillet over medium heat until fat renders then remove from skillet and set aside in a bowl.
  7. Brown drumettes in skillet in rendered sausage fat until browned then transfer to bowl with sausage.
  8. Remove ham hocks from pot and pull meat from bones, chopping into bite sized pieces and add to bowl with sausage.
  9. Return pureed greens to large pot and add sausage, chicken, andouille, pork sausage, stew beef, ham shank and chopped ham.
  10. Cover with equal amounts of stock from ham shanks and reserved liquid from greens and bring to simmer over medium-high heat.
  11. To make roux, sprinkle flour into skillet containing hot sausage drippings over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Add vegetable oil as needed to create a thick paste.
  12. Drop roux in spoonfuls into gumbo, stirring well.
  13. Add thyme, cayenne, bay leaves and salt to gumbo and let simmer, stirring frequently, until meat is cooked through (about an hour).
  14. If desired, stir in file at end of cooking.
  15. Serve over rice.



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