Gumbo Z'Herbes

Use any greens, as long as you use 3 1/4 lb. total, but "you will acquire a new friend for every kind of green in the pot--and we hope one of them's rich," says Leah Chase.

Yield:

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Recipe from

Recipe Time

Hands-on: 55 Minutes
Total: 2 Hours, 50 Minutes

Ingredients

5 cups chopped mustard greens
5 cups chopped collard greens
5 cups chopped turnip greens
3 cups chopped beet tops (5 oz.)
2 cups chopped cabbage
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped watercress
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
1 cup chopped carrot tops (1 1/2 oz.)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound smoked sausage, diced
1/2 pound smoked ham, diced
1/2 pound uncooked beef brisket, diced
1/2 pound dry Spanish chorizo or andouille sausage, diced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon filé powder
Hot cooked rice

Preparation

1. Combine first 11 ingredients and water to cover in a 15-qt. stockpot; cover. Bring to a boil over high heat (about 20 minutes). Uncover; boil, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking liquid. Coarsely chop greens.

2. Combine smoked sausage and next 2 ingredients in pot with 2 cups reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil. Boil, stirring once, 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook chorizo in hot oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels, reserving 3 Tbsp. drippings in skillet.

4. Make a roux: Stir flour into reserved drippings with a wooden spoon, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until flour is medium brown (about 15 minutes; see "Roux Is a Ritual," below, as a guide). Add flour mixture to mixture in stockpot, and stir well. Add chopped greens mixture and 5 cups reserved cooking liquid. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Stir in salt, thyme, red pepper, and chorizo. Cook, stirring occasionally, 40 minutes. Stir in filé powder; stir vigorously. Serve over hot cooked rice.

ROUX IS A RITUAL, a foundation of flavor, and a commitment. To make it, you simply combine fat and flour in a heavy skillet or pot and cook it, stirring constantly, to coax out flavor, using the color--blonde to dark brown--as your guidepost. Chefs such as Leah Chase know the only critical key to making roux is following one simple commandment: Thou shalt pay attention. No texting and stirring. From there, it's easy.

Step 1: Pick your fat. Butter or animal fat adds flavor, but use canola oil for darker Creole and Cajun roux. Its higher smoke point is more forgiving.

Step 2: Choose your heat. Experts can use a higher flame. Beginners should heat fat in a pan over medium; the roux will take longer but not burn as easily. Add roughly a 1:1 ratio of flour.

Step 3: ID the roux you want; keep stirring until you match it:

1. BLONDE ROUX: Flour is cooked but still light. Stir into sauces such as velouté to add richness and body.

2. LIGHT BROWN ROUX: Marry this versatile thickener with pan juices from a roast to make gravy.

3. MEDIUM-BROWN ROUX: Begins losing thickening power but adds toasty flavor. Takes 15 minutes on medium heat.

4. DARK BROWN ROUX: Takes 20 minutes when cooked fast, up to 1 hour cooked slowly. Gives étouffées and gumbos deep, smoky flavor.

5. BLESS YOUR HEART: You've gone too far. Cook the roux too long or fast and it will taste burned.

Note:

Leah Chase,

Dooky Chase's Restaurant, New Orleans,

February 2013