Leah Chase’s Gumbo Z’Herbes


1 bunch mustard greens

1 bunch collard greens

1 bunch turnip greens

1 bunch watercress

1 bunch beet tops

1 bunch carrot tops

1 bunch spinach

½ head lettuce

½ head cabbage

2 onions, chopped (about 3 cups)

4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

5 tablespoons flour

1 pound smoked sausage

1 pound smoked ham

1 pound brisket, cubed

1 pound stew meat

1 pound chaurice (hot sausage)

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon file powder

Steamed rice for serving



Clean all greens under cold running water, making sure to pick out and discard bad leaves and rinse away any grit. Chop greens coarsely and place them in a 12-quart stockpot with the onions and garlic. Cover with about 1½ gallons water. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 30 minutes. Strain greens. Reserve greens and liquid.

Cut all meats except chaurice into 1-inch bite-size pieces, and put in 12-quart stockpot with 2 cups of the reserved liquid. Steam over high heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut chaurice into bite-size pieces and place in a skillet over high heat to render, about 10 minutes. Remove chaurice, keeping grease in the skillet. Set aside.

Blend greens in a food processor until puréed.

Heat skillet of reserved chaurice drippings over high heat and add flour to the skillet. Cook until flour is fully cooked and a roux is formed (about 5 minutes; does not have to brown). Pour roux over meat mixture in stockpot and stir to combine. Add puréed greens and 2 quarts reserved liquid. Simmer over low heat 20 minutes.

Add chaurice, thyme and cayenne to the stockpot. Stir well. Season and simmer 40 minutes. Stir in filé powder and remove from heat. Serve over steamed rice.

In addition to the controversy regarding the inclusion of meat in gumbo z’herbes is the debate about whether or not it should be made with a roux. (My mother sometimes added a cup of premade roux to her gumbo z’herbes. It’s a personal thing.) Also, if you can find fresh greens, I highly recommend using them, but if not, frozen will suffice.