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Gumbo Z'Herbs with smoked Pig Tail Recipe

Gumbo Z'Herbs with smoked Pig Tail Recipe

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4 Tablespoons unsalted Butter

1 yellow onion diced medium

2 stalks of celery diced medium

1 green bell pepper diced medium

5 cloves of garlic sliced thinly

2 bay leaves

10 sprigs of fresh thyme tied in a bundle

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1/4c flour

2 quarts of water

2lbs of smoked pork tails

1 bunch of collard greens washed, stemmed and chopped

1 bunch of turnip greens washed, stemmed and chopped

1 bunch of mustard greens washed, stemmed and chopped

1 bunch green kale washed, stemmed and chopped

1 bunch of spinach washed and chopped

1 bunch of Italian parsley stemmed and chopped

1 bunch of radish tops washed and chopped

1 head of green cabbage chopped

1 bunch of scallions chopped

2 ounces of red wine vinegar

1 bottle of pepper vinegar

For the Peanut “Gremoulada”:

1c salted toasted peanuts

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon file powder

2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes

2 Tablespoons dried garlic flakes

1 cup diced radishes left over from using the tops from above

Gumbo Z'Herbs with smoked Pig Tail Recipe - Recipes

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

To the pot, add the onions, bell peppers, and celery. Sauté until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley, and sauté until combined. Add the sausage and sauté just until it begins to brown. Add 1 cup of stock to the mixture and scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen the brown bits of flavor. Add the chicken back to the pot.

Add enough additional chicken stock to the gumbo pot to cover all the chicken and vegetable mixture. Season with cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Add 1½ cups of roux and stir to combine. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let cook for 1 hour.

Uncover and remove the chicken pieces. Skim the surface of any excess oil. Taste the gumbo and if you prefer your gumbo thinner, add more stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes longer.

Uncover the pot and once again skim the surface of any excess oil.

At this point, you can leave the chicken on the bone or remove the bones and skin from each of the pieces. Just prior to serving, add the chicken back to the pot, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes more.

Uncover the pot and skim the surface of any excess oil. Sample the finished gumbo and season with Cajun seasoning and hot sauce to taste.

Ladle the gumbo into large bowls over a mound of rice and garnish with diced green onion tops. Add a bit of filé powder if you like.

Gumbo Z’ Herbs or Green Gumbo

Green Gumbo or Gumbo Z’ Herbs

Southerners love their greens. A time honored tradition, greens have held an important role for well over a century and there is no other vegetable that is so unique to the region. Greens do not form a compact head, and therefore I am referring to mostly kale, collards, turnips, spinach, mustard, even dandelion. I was never introduced to, nor did I have to transition into eating greens of any kind. They were incorporated into my life from the beginning.

My grandparents owned a peanut farm outside of Statesboro, Georgia, and they also farmed the land for their own needs. My parents would drive my sister and I over in our station wagon from Charleston to spend weekends and summers, always arriving to pots of fresh greens, peas, and boiled peanuts on the stove top. While we were busy fetching eggs from the henhouse, playing with the piglets, or trying to catch catfish in the pond, our elders were hard at work snapping peas, telling stories, and enjoying libations on the front porch. It was real and now iconic.

I was taught at a young age how to clean greens in the bathtub by my dad and mother. Later as an adult, I grew to realize how much I missed greens, and knew I better get to washing some myself! I relied on my instinct, and after a few phone calls to my parents to get the family recipe right, I knew I had mastered the task of cooking a mess of greens when my children ran into the house yelling “Ew, what’s that smell?”, just as I had done at their age.

I am sharing a recipe for a different kind of gumbo I learned to make while living in New Orleans, Gumbo Z’ Herbs. It combines all the goodness that a variety of greens can give, yet explodes with flavor after having time to simmer. Gumbo Z’ Herbs is a soul nourishing dish that makes a body feel good. I need that more than ever, as I just had a fight with the sidewalk and lost.

This Gumbo Z’ Herbs recipe is an adaptation from three of my favorite New Orleans chefs, John Folse, Leah Chase, and Leon Soniat, Jr. There are so many versions, and like SEC football, individuals can be quite passionate about their recipe being the best. I have tried many, some with beans, others meatless, but after much hard work, I think I have the perfect recipe.

In New Orleans this dish is served during Lenten week, usually on Holy Thursday before Good Friday and would not include any meat. You’s also substitute chicken for vegetable broth. Keto or Gluten Free? Omit the flour or use almond flour. Low Carb or Keto? Skip the rice.

Gumbo Z’ Herbs

  • 1 bunch mustard greens
  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 bunch turnips
  • 1 bunch watercress or dandelion greens
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 3 cups onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 gallons water or chicken broth
  • 5 tbsps flour or almond flour if gluten free
  • 1 pound smoked sausage like Conecuh
  • 1 ham hock or neck, about 2 pounds, with several 1/2-inch slits cut into it
  • 1 pound andouille sausage
  • 3 tbsp rendered bacon fat or olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • parsley for garnish
  • green onion for garnish
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ground sea salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp filé powder


  1. Clean all greens under cold running water, making sure to pick out bad leaves. Rinse away any soil or grit. I find the bathtub or a deep sink the best place to clean a “mess” of greens. The greens should be washed and rinsed 2 to 3 times. Cut away the hard rib in the center of the leaf, then fold over and chop greens coarsely.
  2. In a 12 -quart stockpot, heat the bacon fat. Add the ham hock and onions and cook for 10 minutes, until onions are softened and slits in ham hock have begun to open up. Add garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and cayenne pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add chopped greens and tops, add chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water, and bring mixture to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. I use homemade chicken broth when possible, or organic low sodium chicken broth.
  4. Strain greens and reserve the liquid. Place greens in the bowl of a food processor on pulse, or chop in a meat grinder. Pour greens into a mixing bowl, sprinkle in 5 tablespoons flour, blend and set aside.
  5. Dice all meats into 1-inch pieces and place into the 12-quart pot. Return the reserve liquid to the pot and bring to a low boil, cover and cook 30 minutes. Add greens, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cover and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until meat is tender, approximately 1 hour. Add water if necessary to retain volume.
  6. Add filé powder, stir well and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Serve ladled around white rice. Garnish with parsley and chopped green onion.

Note: Do not continue cooking, or boil after adding filé powder. May choose to serve it on the side.

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This soup is delicious! I made a few mistakes (notably forgetting the roux entirely!) so it might have been even better. My biggest complaint: HOLY CHOPPING! Admittedly I am slow but this soup took me twice as long as the "active time." So be prepared. Not sure it's worth it for all the work, but it made a ton and it tastes great.

I thought this was one of the best tasting recipes for greens that I have had. I the only exception I made was to use smoked turkey legs instead of ham hocks. Even my husband who turns his nose up at greens ate several portions. I will definately make this again. Oh and to the person from Piccadilly Circus now that was funny!

I ate gumbo z'herbes in New Orleans at a restaurant near the convention center. It was quite tasty. as to its origin, well, the reason I'm looking up a recipe is that a friend of mine gave me a pallet of collards and kale and I need to do something with them. if you grow greens, you end up with an abundance.

Haven't tried this recipe. There is a recipe for Gumbo Z'Herbes (a Dunbar's version) in Deidre Stanforth's "The New Orleans Restaurant Cookbook", copyright 1967.

I made this for my twin sister and she just couldn't stop raving about it (of course, ever since she contracted syphilis from Joe-Joe the Dog-Faced Boy she's raving most of the time). Even though we do pretty much everything together (we're joined at the hip - literally), it's rare that we agree on food, so this recipe was a wonderful discovery. We've been to the South numerous times in our travels with the circus and have never had gumbo quite like this, but that certainly didn't inhibit our enjoyment of this dish. The fact that we used Mediterranean sea salt, Trinity bottled water, butter we churned ourselves from the cream of hand-milked Brown Swiss cows, and ham hocks imported directly to us from the Black Forest may have enhanced the flavors somewhat. Being on the cutting edge of culinary excellence is crucial to me (us), despite what the reviewer from Vancouver may think.

Not worth it for all that effort!

Way to go Arkansas! I agree! Perhaps the person from Vancouver needs----um----fiber, maybe? Thank goodness I know people from up there that are really much nicer to be around.

Being a southerner and a lover of spicy food, I agree with most of you (with the exception of Vancouver). Roux is the cornerstone of gumbo. The term though does refer to the African "okra". My main thought is that if you are here at the site, and you take the time to write something, then aren't YOU one of the "morons" depending upon others approval?

Syphilitic circus mutants. 90% of the population are morons. Vancouver. your pompous, arrogant attitude is nauseating!

To Vancouver: I couldn't agree with you more! Love your sense of humor.

Toronto: what's the matter, can't make up your own mind about a recipe? Need the opinion of a bunch of strangers, who, for all you know, could have the taste and food savvy of a bunch of syphilitic circus mutants? Do you really care if Betty from Brownsville thinks it's "awesome," or if Dana from Detroit says, "even my 5 year-old liked it!" Please keep mind that 90% of the population are complete morons.

Enough of this gumbo mumbo-jumbo! I'm no Dumbo, just a Canadian girl looking for a good feed. This was lovely, simple and good. Added sliced chorizo to make it heartier. Now if youɽ all start reviewing these recipes along with your comments it would be much more helpful!

Notwithstanding whether it's appropriately named, I was lukewarm about this recipe. Although my guests liked it (given ample room to submit an honest opinion), it seems to me that all you really end up with is a large pile of moderately-flavored, somewhat overcooked greens. I sauteed bread rounds in olive oil and rubbed them with garlic to serve under the soup I thought that helped. I also think adding some sausage slices would help, but then again it would just take longer to finish the leftovers that way, and I'm not sure that's a desirable side effect.

Good grief, the debate continues. How about this, this recipe isn't for "gumbo" it's for "gumbo z'herbes," a different beast altogether. Yes, the word gumbo means okra, and no, this recipe doesn't contain file or a dark roux or okra, but this isn't gumbo, it's gumbo z'herbes. Also, consider this. Louisiana andouille is nothing like French andouille, yet they have the same name. Same for boudin. I doubt many of you gumbo nay-sayers have complained about their names.

So now that we know everyones opinions on what gumbo is or is not, why doesn't someone RATE THIS DISH.

I have a recipe from the Picayune's Creole cookbook very similar to this one. I would consider that cookbook an authority on Creole cooking. I have a copy of the 1901 edition. The cookbook says this recipe is served on good friday and there is a variation of it served with ham and veal.

As the "Cook from New Orleans" and my creole ex-wife always said. FIRST you make a roux. Okra is also one of the prime ingredents of a Gumbo. The roux if cooked darkly (and only in a cast iron skillet) and the okra give the Gumbo it's flavor and consistency. The smokey flavor can come from a dark roux (add some black pepper). Saute some onions and what you add after that is imaterial.

This is a pretty good version of gumbo z'herbes. This is a dish which has only recently received attention from local chefs and food media. In the history of restaurant biz, it has never been a popular offering here in N.O. A traditional gumbo it is not. It evolved as a "gumbo" when people didn't have meat or seafood to use - not because of the church's ban on meat on Friday. I could write pages on gumbos but would like to point out three things: Gumbo does refer to okra, an african word. Okra is one of the three thickeners used for gumbo. The others are gumbo file' from sasafras leaves (originated with native Americans here) and roux, the flour thickener. Yes, file' powder was actually used as a thickener and not a seasoning, but it does a rather poor job. Nowadays, I see gumbos using all three and laugh quietly at the authors who claim to be "purists".

I searched the Net for gumbo z'herbes and found that it is also called green gumbo that it is a very traditional gumbo, originally prepared on Holy Thursday for Good Friday: that not all gumbos contain orka: that most gumbos are thickened by roux, but some by using filé powder and that Tabasco (McIlhenny Co.) and Emeril Lagasse have recipes for green gumbo that are very similar to the controversial one here. I also found, at least three times, the statement saying there are as many recipes for gumbo as there are Cajun cooks. I will certainly try this recipe.

I love it when Yankees try to tell people from Louisiana what Gumbo is. For their knowledge, Gumbo is an African word meaning Okra. Even if you add Okra, you still have a simi-Roux thinkened vegitable soup. As vegitable soup it is not bad, but as Gumbo it is a flop.


This can be called a gumbo, it does have a roux (read carefully). Whatever, the ingredients in a gumbo have always been variable, make a roux, and add whatever veggies and meat you have or wish. This is very good.

I haven't made this, but plan to as it sounds delicious. The discussion is probably the most interesting I've ever read on Epicurious about a recipe.

This is NOT gumbo in any shape or form. The first rule of good gumbo is: First you make a roux. None of these vegetables are used in traditional gumbo. This is vegetable soup.

What Do You Know About Louisiana’s Most Famous Soup?

This soup is the delicious result of numerous cultures and chefs contributing their own variations to this signature Louisiana dish.

Louisiana’s signature stew-like soup reflects traditions spanning African, Native American, French, German, and other European cultures. Praised as “the crown of all the savory and remarkable soups in the world—a regular elixir of life” in 1850 by a Swedish writer, it comes in two main versions, both served over rice: seafood gumbo with shrimp, crab, and oysters or chicken and andouille gumbo, with smoked pork cayenne-spiced sausage. But a third, green version—gumbo z’herbes (short for gumbo des herbes)—was made famous by Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans, whose late chef and owner, Leah Chase, was called the “Queen of Creole Cuisine.”

Gumbo is both a Cajun and Creole dish, beloved by both the descendants of Acadians forced to flee Nova Scotia in the 18th century, and the mixed-race descendants of Europeans and enslaved Africans. “Cajun cooking is a rustic style of cuisine based on country French cooking, which evolved around indigenous ingredients harvested from the land, swamps, bayous, and streams. Creole cuisine is more sophisticated, based on European techniques but greatly influenced by other cultures,” says chef John Folse, author of The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine and co-owner of Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans.

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“Like white on rice, gumbo and Louisiana are inseparable.”

“Like white on rice, gumbo and Louisiana are inseparable,” says Louisiana Travel, the state tourism board. But its precise origin is murky. Traditionally made with a roux, a French technique that cooks flour and oil until they turn brown (often chocolate brown), it’s thickened with either okra, popular in Africa, or filé powder (ground sassafras leaves), a Native American contribution. In fact, “gumbo” is derived from the word for okra in West African languages, ki ngombo. But kombo is the Choctaw word for sassafras.

“In Louisiana there are as many variations of gumbo as there are cooks in the kitchen,” due to settlers’ nationalities and regional ingredients, says Folse, who identified 10 regional gumbo styles, from north to south. Tomatoes, crawfish, beans, peas, or even potato salad may be added. It’s a synonym for a potpourri: Ken Burns even named the first episode of his documentary on jazz, Gumbo: The Beginnings.

Some think gumbo is related to bouillabaisse, the French seafood stew. But purists vehemently disagree. For one thing, the classic bouillabaisse, from Marseille in Provence in southern France, uses several different types of fish, added to a broth accented with saffron and fennel. But fish has never been a gumbo ingredient. Also, it’s believed that over half the Acadians who settled in south Louisiana were from Normandy and Brittany in northern France. An emphasis on a French origin disrespects the strong influence of African foodways on Louisiana’s food, many food experts think.

Gumbo z’herbes reflects the influence of Germans, who brought their custom of serving a dish of seven different greens, or a soup of seven herbs, on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) for health and good luck. Germans emigrated by the thousands from the 1720s on to the “river parishes” upriver from New Orleans, like St. James (where Folse’s ancestor, John Jacob Foltz, settled), St. Charles, and St. John the Baptist. A town, Des Allemands (French for “the Germans”), remains in St. Charles Parish today.

But in Louisiana, it shifted into a dish vegetarians wouldn’t recognize. Gumbo z’herbes is packed with nine greens, from collards, spinach, mustard greens, cabbage to watercress, plus (surprise!) chicken, two types of sausage (smoked and chaurice, a spicy pork sausage seasoned with scallions, parsley, and onions), ham hock, and veal, in a roux spiced with file and cayenne at Dooky Chase’s (you can find the recipe here).

“There’s a lot of protein to gear up for the fast on Good Friday,” says Edgar Chase IV, Dooky Chase’s executive chef, and Leah’s grandson. “We serve it just once a year.”

Chase says that his grandparents passed down a superstition about the origins of the nine greens in gumbo z’herbes. “Nine is the amount of new friends you’ll make and one will be wealthy. It’s supposed to be an odd number of greens we’ve also done it with 11 or seven.”

Folse adds, “Leah would tell the story that even though it’s green gumbo, Louisiana has so much access to game and other meats that fit a heartier version, and one that stretches the table for big families. ‘There’s never too much meat for a green gumbo,’ she’d say.”

Year-round, Chase also serves a Creole gumbo, made with chicken, crab, shrimp, veal, ham hock, smoked sausage and chaurice, oyster liquid, and a roux spiked with filé. An okra seafood gumbo, featuring shrimp, crab, oyster liquid, and tomato paste, instead of a roux, is served on Friday. “That’s the beauty of gumbo, it’s so versatile and flexible. You can do duck or turkey gumbo, everyone does a different type of gumbo,” says Chase, whose grandmother, named a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award winner in 2016, died in 2019. Her children, Edgar III and Stella, now own the restaurant, which opened in 1941.

Death by Gumbo Courtesy of Chef John Folse & Co.

Twists on gumbo abound. Death by Gumbo (roast quail stuffed with oysters, arugula, rice, and filé) is on the menu at Restaurant R’evolution, a variation of the dish Folse first prepared for The New York Times restaurant critic Craig Claiborne, who wrote a story on how Cajun and Creole cuisine was changing, at his home back in 1987.

Agnolotti stuffed with a gumbo z’herbes filling (collard and turnip greens braised with pork plus cream cheese spiced with Tabasco and harissa) in broth, topped with Parmesan, is served at The Chloe, a new boutique hotel in New Orleans’ Garden District. “The greens make such a flavorful pasta filling. People don’t expect it, some say it’s the best dish they ever had. It’s like pasta en brodo,” says Todd Pulsinelli, chef at The Chloe, which opened in late 2020.

In fact, gumbo is so popular among Cajuns, an unusual Mardi Gras custom is built around it in rural Cajun country. Nicknamed the “chicken run,” Le Courir de Mardi Gras in small towns like Mamou, about three hours west of New Orleans, is so different from the New Orleans festival, it’s like another planet.

Men in rustic long-sleeved, long-pants fringed outfits, homemade masks, and conical, dunce-like caps ride on horseback from farm to farm to beg for gumbo ingredients and chase chickens.

Men in rustic long-sleeved, long-pants fringed outfits, homemade masks, and conical, dunce-like caps ride on horseback from farm to farm to beg for gumbo ingredients and chase chickens. The outfits resemble pajamas more than the opulent costumes and ornate floats in the big-city Mardi Gras. It’s a rollicking game whose players, often pickled in alcohol, roll around on the ground in hot pursuit of a chicken, given to a purple-caped, flag-waving captain when caught, sing and dance for bystanders, and even sway and dance atop their horses.

A haunting gumbo-begging song in Cajun French, La Danse (or Le Chanson) de Mardi Gras, accompanies the high jinks. Translated into English, one lyric, referring to the communal chicken and andouille gumbo the town feasts on after the riders enter town, goes:

“Captain, captain, wave sour flag,

Let’s go to our neighbors asking for charity,

From everyone who’ll come join us later,

Everyone who’ll cook the gumbo tonight.”

Its words are a recent addition, only about a century old, but the melody is believed to be much older, akin to centuries-old tunes from Brittany, France, one history says.

A delightful way to taste your way through history is found at gumbo festivals, known for their cooking contests, held mainly when cold weather approaches. In New Orleans, the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival is in November, held by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, which sponsors Jazz Fest each year. Honored as the “gumbo capital of the world” by state lawmakers, Bridge City, in Jefferson Parish near New Orleans, held a drive-through version of its long-running extravaganza, which cooks 2,000 gallons of gumbo, last year. Chackbay in Cajun bayou country in Lafourche Parish, has held its Louisiana Gumbo Festival for 49 years.

What Makes Gumbo, Gumbo? + Seafood Gumbo Recipe

New Orleans, aka the Crescent City is a fascinating place known for diversity, culture, and its rich heritage. Put it all in a bowl to eat and enjoy, and you would have what is known as gumbo.

Gumbo originated in Louisiana in the 18th century, but there is no evidence to pinpoint the exact origin of the food. Many believe as do I, that the name “gumbo” is derived from the word kingombo, which is Bantu for okra, a popular ingredient in West African cooking. The Choctaw Indians were found to have developed the spicy file’ powder, a key additive made from sassafras leaves but the French lay claim to the thickening agent known as the roux.

Gumbo is a full meal, a melting pot of rich flavors steeped in tradition, a comforting stew-like dish. Though I learned to make gumbo in high school, most locals to the state learn at the hand of their mother’s and grandmother’s at a young age. Gumbo can’t be rushed, so if you don’t have the time or quality ingredients, don’t bother.

It is crucial to use the freshest and best seasonal ingredients when cooking gumbo, so selecting meat and/or shellfish, vegetables, including the thickener (usually in the form of okra or file powder) must be done carefully. There are many variations of gumbo, and everyone thinks theirs is the best, but I tend to stick to Chicken & Sausage or Seafood Gumbo, but I do use turkey after Thanksgiving. If lucky enough to have a hunter in the family, game is a wonderful ingredient to use as well.

Having had the opportunity to live in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Houma, and to have toured the state of Louisiana, I have tasted many different, yet exceptional gumbo dishes. Creole gumbo typically contains seafood and often stewed tomatoes, and Cajun gumbo is seafood and fowl based (though typically not together), but one thing is for certain, it all comes down to the roux.

The key to the best gumbo is a milk chocolate colored roux, which can be tricky, as it is at its peak just before being burned. A roux is equal parts flour and fat (I tend to use a little more flour), and is cooked gently on the stove for about 20-30 minutes depending on your altitude. I also prefer vegetable oil over butter that tends to burn, or olive oil that tends top separate.

Note: You must not leave your pot during the roux process n ot for anything. If burned it must be thrown out, and a new roux started. I stand at my stove and stir, using a slotted roux spoon with an angled bottom in my heavy bottom pot, for at least 20 minutes.

Every gumbo has to include the holy trinity of vegetables: the onion, celery, and green bell peppers. I always introduce quite a bit of fresh garlic, and of course the okra. I have heard many talk of leaving the okra out, but then you will just have a great stew. It’s not gumbo without the okra!

Gumbo is cooked an hour or more to let the flavors marry. In my opinion it is even better the following day. I tend to make gumbo in a large batch to feed a crowd or to have leftovers, and it does freeze well.

Serve your gumbo around a mound of fluffy Louisiana or Anson Mills rice with a dash of Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce, and enjoy this soulful dish, perfect for the Mardi Gras season.

Note: Use a heavy bottom pot to keep the roux from scorching. Get ready for the cajun facial when you add the holy trinity. During Lent, try Gumbo Z’ Herbs.

Louisiana Seafood Gumbo

The premier stew of Cajun country, seafood gumbo, is known worldwide as the dish to seek out when visiting South Louisiana. There are as many recipes for gumbo as there are people who cook it. This, however, is my favorite.


  • 1.5 pound (35-count) shrimp, peeled and de-veined (save heads for stock)
  • 1.5-2 pounds lump crabmeat
  • 1 dozen shucked oysters, reserve liquid (optional)
  • 2 quarts shellfish stock (strain heads before using)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1.5 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced garlic
  • 15 oz bag frozen cut okra
  • 1 cup stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 pound sliced andouille sausage
  • 1 pound counecuh smoked sausage
  • 1 cups sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 sprigs chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • salt and cayenne pepper
  • Crystal or Tabasco Hot Sauce
  • File powder
  • 2 Bay leaves

In a 7-quart cast iron dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in flour and, using a wire whisk or roux spoon, stir constantly until brown roux is achieved. Do not allow roux to scorch. Should black specks appear in roux, discard and begin again. Once roux is golden brown, add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic, thyme and basil. Sauté approximately 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add andouille, smoked sausage, blend well into vegetable mixture and sauté an additional 2-3 minutes. Slowly add hot shellfish stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until all is incorporated. Slowly add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and bay leaves. Stir. Bring to a low boil, reduce to simmer and cook approximately 20 minutes. Stirring often so not to stick. During this time, in a separate pan, saute the okra for 10 minutes, then rinse in a colander, and add to the mixture already cooking. Add additional stock if necessary to retain volume. After the 20 minutes, add green onions and parsley. Add 1/2 pound of crabmeat. Season to taste using salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce. Cook on low 10 more minutes. Fold shrimp, rest of lump crabmeat, oysters and reserved oyster liquid into soup. Return to a low boil and cook approximately 5 minutes until oyster edges curl and shrimp turn pink. Adjust seasonings and serve over cooked rice.

Personal Tips: I like to saute my vegetables (onion, celery, garlic, bell pepper, thyme, basil) in a separate pan and add after the stock. I also pre saute my smoked sausage and andouille in a separate pan, drain on paper towels, and add after the stock. To make the shellfish stock I simmer heads and bodies of shrimp in chicken broth, strain and then use in the gumbo.

To serve: Ladle the gumbo into shallow bowls and pile some rice in the center. Sprinkle the parsley and green onions over the top. Pass the warm French bread, gumbo file powder, and Crystal hot sauce at the table.

Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to [email protected]

by Stanley Dry

Of all the dishes in the realm of Louisiana cooking, gumbo is the most famous and, very likely, the most popular. Gumbo crosses all class barriers, appearing on the tables of the poor as well as the wealthy. Although ingredients might vary greatly from one cook to the next, and from one part of the state to another, a steaming bowl of fragrant gumbo is one of life’s cherished pleasures, as emblematic of Louisiana as chili is of Texas.

Gumbo is often cited as an example of the melting-pot nature of Louisiana cooking, but trying to sort out the origins and evolution of the dish is highly speculative. The name derives from a West African word for okra, suggesting that gumbo was originally made with okra. The use of filé (dried and ground sassafras leaves) was a contribution of the Choctaws and, possibly, other local tribes. Roux has its origin in French cuisine, although the roux used in gumbos is much darker than its Gallic cousins.

Dr. Carl A. Brasseaux, of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, who has written the definitive history of the Cajuns, found that the first documented references to gumbo appeared around the turn of the 19th century. In 1803, gumbo was served at a gubernatorial reception in New Orleans, and in 1804 gumbo was served at aCajun gathering on the Acadian Coast.

Today, the gumbos people are most familiar with are seafood gumbo and chicken and sausage gumbo. But that merely scratches the surface of gumbo cookery, both historical and contemporary.

Lafcadio Hearn’s La Cuisine Creole, published in 1885, contains recipes for several gumbos made from a variety of ingredients—chicken, ham, bacon, oysters, crab, shrimp, and beef, among them. Some of the recipes are made with okra, others with filé. Although there is no mention of a roux in any of the recipes, some of them call for the addition of flour or browned flour as a thickener.

The Creole Cookery Book, published by the Christian Woman’s Exchange of New Orleans in 1885, calls gumbo making an “occult science” that “should be allowed its proper place in the gastronomical world.” A New Orleans gumbo, the book maintains, “can be made of scraps of cold meat or fowl, a few oysters, crabs or shrimps, and, with a couple of spoonfuls of well cooked rice, is a very satisfying and economical dinner.” The editors include several recipes for gumbo, one of which incorporates filé (spelled “fillet” in the book). All the ingredients are useful, natural and completely harmless to men’s health, read about the prices of medicines for potency on the . Some of the recipes are made with various greens and herbs, but, curiously, there is no mention of okra as a gumbo ingredient, although the book includes three recipes for okra soup.

The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook, published in New Orleans in 1901, includes recipes for a variety of gumbos. Among the principal ingredients are chicken, ham, oysters, turkey, wild turkey, squirrel, rabbit, beef, veal, crabs, soft-shell crabs, shrimp, greens, and cabbage. Some of the gumbos are made with okra, others with filé.

Traditionally, gumbos have been divided into two large categories—those thickened with okra and those thickened with filé. According to some accounts, before the advent of refrigeration and freezers, okra was the preferred thickening agent for gumbo, while filé was a substitute used only in the off-season when okra wasn’t available. That sounds plausible, but I’ve also come across references to dried okra as an ingredient in 19th-century gumbos. By drying okra, cooks could use it in their gumbos year round.

In some respects, putting gumbo into either an okra or a filé category is still valid, but for many cooks, a brown roux is the only thickener, and filé has virtually disappeared from their recipes. Often roux-based gumbos do incorporate filé, and to my taste they are the better for it. Filé is used both for thickening and for flavor. It is usually added to a gumbo just before serving, or at the table. Many okra gumbos also incorporate a brown roux and some roux-based gumbo contain a small amount of okra, often cooked until it virtually dissolves.

If all those variations aren’t confusing enough, there are also raging controversies over what constitutes a proper gumbo roux. Roux, of course, is flour that has been browned in oil or some other fat. Both cooks and eaters have their own opinions on how dark the roux should be and how much should be used in a gumbo. There is no agreement on these matters, as anyone who has tasted gumbos from different cooks can attest.

A good place to sample an astonishingly wide range of gumbos is the World Championship Gumbo Cookoff that is held each October in New Iberia. A few years ago, I interviewed contestants about their gumbo philosophies. As for the preferred color of the roux, answers varied from the color of a brown paper bag to the color of dark chocolate. So, too, for the desired thickness of the gumbo. A local banker aimed for a thin gumbo (“gumbo juice,” he called it), while another cook’s ideal thickness was somewhere between rice and gravy and a stew.

Although the New Iberia event requires that contestants cook their own roux on site, the rest of us are not so constrained. For some years, commercially prepared rouxs have been available, and they are a great convenience item. Dry rouxs consisting of only browned flour are also commonplace on grocery shelves and are popular with those who wish to reduce their consumption of fat. When using either, I’ve found that it’s preferable to dissolve them in hot liquid before adding to the gumbo pot.

Contemporary gumbos are made with all manner of ingredients in a variety of combinations. Seafood and non-seafood gumbos are two primary types, and they may be made with or without okra. But some gumbos include ingredients from both the land and the sea. Duck, smoked sausage, and oyster gumbo is one delicious example. Some cooks add hard-boiled eggs to chicken and sausage gumbos, and quail eggs find their way into other versions. A very atypical version is the Lenten gumbo z’herbes, which is made with a variety of greens.

Seafood gumbos often include crabs, shrimp, and oysters. Shrimp and okra gumbo is a perennial favorite, as is chicken and okra gumbo. Chicken and sausage gumbo is extremely popular, and in the households of hunters, ducks and other game birds often wind up in the gumbo pot. Turkey and sausage gumbos appear frequently during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. An unusual but delicious combination is a gumbo of steak, smoked sausage, and oysters. Some cooks use ham or tasso in their gumbos, and others use fresh sausage in place of the smoked variety. The possible combinations are virtually endless.

One ingredient that does arouse controversy is the tomato. Some cooks use it in their gumbos, others wouldn’t be caught dead putting tomato in theirs. In that respect, the situation is analogous to jambalaya, where the question of the appropriateness of tomato is a burning issue. Tomatoes are most often found in okra gumbos, but I’ve had roux-based seafood gumbo that also contained tomato. I don’t have any hard evidence to back this up, but in my experience gumbos containing tomato are more common on the eastern side of Bayou Lafourche than they are farther west. Personally, I am for tomato in okra gumbo and against it in non-okra gumbo.

One point everyone can agree on is that gumbo is always served with rice. But that was not always the case. C.C. Robin, a Frenchman who published an account of his travels in Louisiana in 1803-1805, reported that gumbo was served with corn meal mush.

A contemporary variant on that theme is the experience of Dr. Monty Rizzo, a New Iberia physician and an excellent cook who hunts game in Africa. On a safari in Tanzania, he taught the cooks to make a gumbo with the doves his party had shot that day. The cooks had already proved their soup-making skills with a cream of peanut soup and a Cape buffalo tail soup, but gumbo was unknown to them. There was no rice in the camp, so the cooks served the gumbo with corn meal mush. It was such a hit that before the trip was over, they made it again, this time without Dr. Rizzo’s supervision.

For some reason, gumbo is one of those dishes that men often make. It has some of the same appeal as game cookery or barbecuing, and it is a favorite dish at hunting camps. When men who cook only occasionally make a gumbo the event takes on a heightened significance. Some men use the phrase “build a gumbo” to describe what they are doing, and the occasion demands a good supply of iced beer. If there is an audience, so much the better. On the other hand, for women and men who cook on a daily basis, making a gumbo is more routine, if no less important.

I’m convinced that part of gumbo’s virtue, aside from its deliciousness, is that the dish is very forgiving of the cook. Measurements do not have to be exact, ingredients may be changed to use what is on hand, and unless the diners are so set in their ways that they can’t appreciate change, the result will be quite good.

Consider the options as set forth in a gumbo recipe that appeared in the New Orleans City Guide, which was published in 1938. It is a fairly basic recipe for a gumbo made with crabs, shrimp, and oysters. At the end of the instructions is this advice:

“Okra may be used in place of the filé, but it is cooked with the gumbo. The basic recipe is the same, but chicken, veal, and ham or a combination of veal and a hambone can be substituted for the crabs and shrimp. After Thanksgiving and Christmas the left-over turkey may be made into a gumbo with oysters.”

Stanley Dry is a writer, SFA member, and gumbo lover. You can see more of his work here.

Tasso Ham and Langostino Tail Gumbo

Gumbo. The name alone invokes the bayous of Louisiana, steamy and swampy. Or maybe the wild debauchery of Bourbon St. in the French Quarter of New Orleans. For me it means memories of family sitting around the dinner table with big bowls of chicken, sausage, shrimp and crab leg stuffed gumbo. The taste of okra and file powder subtle in the finish.

This gumbo is much simpler, but still packed with the intense flavors of slow smoked pork and sweet langostino tails. When it comes to gumbo there are purists who will insist that for a dish to be called gumbo it must be made only a certain way. But there are many kinds of gumbo, even regional styles of gumbo. My gumbo always includes the trinity, which is onion, bell pepper and celery.

It also always includes file powder, or ground sassafras leaves. Sometimes I use okra, sometimes I don’t. Depends on my mood.

A brown roux is needed to really give the gumbo a deeply rich flavor. If you have never made a roux, it is not something you can put on and walk away from. You need to stir almost constantly, or the roux may burn, which will cause your entire gumbo to taste burnt. The darker a roux, the less thickening power there is, so keep that in mind when using roux to thicken a soup or stew. Here are a few visual clues to look for while cooking your roux.

Roux begins with equal parts fat and flour. In this case I use butter.

When the roux has only cooked for a short time the color will be a light tan and is called a blonde roux.

I like to cook my roux until it is the color of milk chocolate.

The trinity is cooked in the roux, instead of being sauteed in oil.

While participating in Charcutepalooza I made some tasso ham,which is a cured, heavily spiced piece of pork butt that is then hot smoked until it is cooked. It’s origins lie in Cajun cooking. The resulting meat is then used to flavor other dishes such as jambalaya, beans, stews and many other dishes.

Cabbage with pig tails and Cornbread

Step 2- Chop pig tails in half. Cut the outer skin of the pig tail then break the bone in half using your hands!

Step 3- Cut extended part of the cabbage core off the bottom of the cabbage head.

Step 4- Chop cabbage into 4 large quarter pieces. Cut stem off of each quarter piece.

Step 5- Cut each quarter piece into strips. If strips appear to be too long cut in half to reduce the length.

Step 6- Separate all the cabbage leaves from each other. No cabbage leaves should be stuck together when you’re done.

Step 7-Add Cabbage into strainer and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Cooking your cabbage

***Preheat fire to medium high heat***

Step 8- In a large pot Add 1 1/2 quarts water. Let water come to a simmer.

Step 9- Add Smoked pig tails, 2/3 cup chopped yellow onion and 1 teaspoon tony chachere’s creole seasoning. Stir all ingredients together. Cover with lid and let simmer for 1 hour.

Notes- Once your pork stock is finished taste it to see if it is at your desired flavor. If not add an additional 1 teaspoon of tony chachere’s creole seasoning.

Also If some of your pork stock evaporates add an addition 1/2 cup of water. This won’t affect the flavor.

If you are doubling the recipe for step 10. Add the cabbage all the way to the top of your pot. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Cabbage will cook down. Once cabbage has reduced add more cabbage until it reaches near the top of your pot. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. Continue to repeat this step until all of your cabbage is in your pot. The liquid in the pot should be able to cook both heads of cabbage. If you see it evaporating some just add more water. 1/2 cup of water will due.

Step 10- Add Cabbage all the way to the top of your pot. Cover with lid and let simmer for 5 minutes. Within 5 minutes your cabbage will start to reduce and cook down.

Step 11- After 5 minutes stir cabbage for about 1 minute. Cover with lid and let simmer for 50 minutes to an hour.

For best results- Let your cabbage cool down some. This will allow flavors to come together and increase resulting in a flavorful and delicious tasting cabbage.

Cooking your rice

***Preheat fire to medium high heat***

Step 12- Add 2 1/2 quarts of water into a medium sized pot. Let come to a boil.

Step 13- Add rice and stir. Let simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

Notes- After 7 minutes taste rice to see if it is at your desired texture.

Step 14- Drain rice into a strainer and rinse with cold water.

Step 15- Return your strainer back on top of your pot and let it sit!

Making your cornbread

***Preheat oven to 400 degrees***

Step 16- Add Cast Iron skillet into your oven and let it sit while you prepare your cornbread batter.

Step 17- In a large bowl add 2 cups cornmeal, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir all ingredients together. Set aside.

Step 18- In a separate bowl add 1 1/4 Cup whole milk (Room temperature), 2 Large eggs (Room Temperature) and 2/3 Cup of melted salted butter. Stir all ingredients together.

Step 19- Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir all ingredients together.

Step 20- Remove your cast iron skillet out of oven. Spread salted butter around the bottom and sides of your skillet.

Step 21- Add cornbread batter into your cast iron skillet. Spread cornbread batter around your pan as evenly as possible.

Step 22- Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 minute or until cornbread resembles a golden brown color.

Step 23- Spread salted butter on top of your cornbread as soon as you take it out of the oven.

Tooth pick test inserted in the middle of your cornbread should come out clean. If not bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Meal is complete. Serve hot and enjoy!

Best Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Recipe

Sausage gumbo is integral part of Louisiana Cajun cuisine. It’s one of those foods that people immediately think of when you talk about Cajun dishes. Gumbo can be served on its own as a soup or with rice mixed in or on the side.

Most gumbo is made using a very strongly flavored stock, like beef or chicken stock. You can make that from scratch by cooking a meat with the bone in when making your gumbo. Or you can use stock veggie bought in a carton from the grocery.

Gumbo usually has a thickener as well, traditionally using file powder. That powder is derived from the sassafras plant, and if you I’ve heard of the recent FDA ban on sassafras, you might be wondering if file powder can still be used to make authentic gumbo.

Recent findings from the FDA have shown that sassafras powder contains safrole, which is a carcinogenic. Especially when it is cooked, safrole can have carcinogenic effects, particularly when it is used in large doses. Because of that, sassafras and sarsaparilla have been banned, therefore effectively banning file powder.

A substitute has to be found for the powder, and the most common substitute used to make gumbo and to thicken it is okra. If you are following a recipe that uses file powder, you can simply substitute it out for okra. To do that, you need 2 cups of okra for each tablespoon of file powder. You can use cornstarch as well, but it won’t have the same flavour as the okra or file powder.

In order to substitute cornstarch in for file powder, you have to mix together 2 teaspoons of cornstarch and a tablespoon of water for each tablespoon that the recipe calls for some file powder.

I going to share with you the best chicken and sausage gumbo recipe. I think it makes sense to add chicken into the gumbo, since you are traditionally supposed to have strong stock flavour to the gumbo. Adding the chicken right into the recipe with the bone in makes for the most authentic gumbo flavour and texture. The flavour from the bones will seep out into the broth and permeate the gumbo, giving it that wonderful chicken flavour.

Like the file powder, you can substitute your stock and just buy stock off the shelf in carton. I don’t think it gives quite the same flavour, but it’s up to you, if you want to make this dish a little easier to put together. For the best chicken in sausage gumbo recipe ever, though, I definitely recommend putting fresh chicken into your gumbo as you make it.

Watch the video: Gumbo Zherbes - Traditional Green Gumbo - How to Make Cajun Vegetarian Gumbo