So for my birthday I nearly always cook for a crowd. This year I made Leah Chase's Gumbo Z'Herbes. It's also known as plain "Green gumbo" and it's prepared at her restaurant in New Orleans. The dish contains 7 greens and 7 meats. Ham, chopped brisket and Andouille included. She cautions the number of greens used must be an uneven number. 7, 9 or 11, for luck. She recommends using 9. They only cook this dish once a year and they have green colored t-shirts printed up to commemorate the event. From Francis Lam on the blog of New Orleans (http://blogofneworleans.com/blog/2010/04/01/gumbo-zherbes-and-holy-thursday-at-dooky-chase/) "...so complex, so bulky with ingredients that two bites are never the same. One minute beefy and tender, the next intensely vegetal and finishing with smoky, porky goodness and a hit of cayenne that warms the back of your throat"
From Kim Severson "Spoon Fed: How 8 cooks saved my life" a book I read and highly recommend, I learned that the act of cutting the 9 greens in your kitchen is akin to a chlorophyll bomb going off.
- The 7 different kinds of meats I used... I'm not in New Orleans so I decided it keep it Brooklyn local and sustainable. Cubed stewing beef, Green chorizo sausage, Fennel sausage, Spicy sausage, Smoked pork ribs, Benton Ham, all from The Meat Hook, Brooklyn NY (http://the-meathook.com/) and Andouille sausage from Marlow and Daughters (also Brooklyn) (http://www.marlowanddaughters.com/)
There is something cleansing and refreshing about the clean wet slice of taunt greens at the crack of dawn. I'm feeling insecure about my non-southern roots, and out of my depth. I have a sink full of more greens than could possibly be in one dish. I'm mindful of the women and the main women (Mrs Leah Chase) that went before me and hoping that I can do this dish justice. I re-read Kim Severson's chapter on this dish and am reminded that at the end of the day, when all is said and done: one just has to have a faith.
- 12 separate greens also went into the same pot... (You're meant to use an odd number for luck, but I had 12 guests so I figured each of them could use a bit of luck) They were cooked in batches first, then puréed. They were Kale, Arugula, Collard greens, Radish greens, Romaine lettuce, Parsley, Beet greens, Turnip greens, Carrot greens, Watercress, Green onions, and Spinach.