Green Gumbo, with Andouille sausage and bacon
Earlier this week, we had a few days that were drizzly and dreary here in New York City. It’s a bit early in the year for the sun to retreat into hibernation, but the cooler weather was a welcome respite to the penetrating heat.
Although the weather has cooled down, it’s still summer, and the markets were flush with greens of every variety. After bagging some lithe, fuzzy okra, a bunch of emerald green lacinato kale, and carrots and beets with greens still attached, I decided to recreate one of my favorite takes on gumbo. It’s called Green Gumbo, and was originally prepared as a meat-free alternative during Lent.
The first time I tried Green Gumbo at the Crescent City Farmers Market, they put a raw oyster at the bottom of the cup, and the hot liquid cooked the oyster, releasing its umami rich brine into the Gumbo Z’Herbes. It didn’t taste like any gumbo I’d ever had, but it surprised and delighted my tastebuds, with it’s smoked mushrooms and green nutty flavor.
Since it’s not Lent, and and I’m not in New Orleans, I’ve gone non-traditional and added bacon and Andouille sausage. This gives it the smokey flavor of the more familiar varieties of gumbo, while still keeping it quick and easy to prepare. If you really want to go healthy, or vegetarian, just omit the sausage and bacon and you’ll have a green gumbo that’s satisfying, yet light enough for the warmer months. Just make sure you add the greens in odd numbers.
Green Gumbo (Gumbo Z’Herbes)
4 ounces thick cut bacon chopped up
12 ounces andouille sausage sliced 1/4″ thick
3 tablespoons flour
8 cloves garlic finely minced
1 large onion minced
2-3 jalapeno chilis seeds removed and minced (add less if you want it mild)
1 pound greens (I used 1 bunch of lacinato kale, 1 bunch beet greens, mustard greens, and some carrot and celery leaves)
8 ounces clam juice
2 cups vegetable stock
6 ounces okra trimmed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Cooked brown rice
Add the bacon and andouille to a large pot and fry over medium heat, until most of the fat has rendered out and the sausage is browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage and bacon to a plate. You should have about 1/4 cup of fat in the pot, if you have more, remove some, if you have less, add butter.
Add the flour to the fat and fry, stirring frequently to make the roux. Keep frying until it reaches a golden brown color. Add the garlic and onions and fry until the onions are browned, soft and fragrant.
To save time, I pulsed the greens in a food processor along with some of the stock, but if you like it more chunky you can hand chop the greens. Add the jalapenos, greens, clam juice, vegetable stock, and okra to the pot. Return the bacon and sausage, then add the celery seed, oregano, paprika and pepper.
Lightly salt the gumbo. It should be a little less salty than you think it should be since some of the water will evaporate as it cooks. Cover and simmer over medium low heat for 40 minutes, or until the greens are tender and the green gumbo is thick and flavourful.
Serve the green gumbo over hot rice with hot sauce.