“No one can duplicate Leah Chase’s wonderful way with grits and grillades and the taste of her bread pudding. A bowl of gumbo z’herbes is worth a trip to the Crescent City on Holy Thursday,” writes historian Jessica B. Harris, author of Beyond Gumbo: Creole Fusion Food from the Atlantic Rim. Louisiana poet laureate Brenda Marie Osbey lauds the Mamère’s crab soup: “Have it with buttered, crusty French bread and you’ll know true satisfaction. Or try the whole trout with eggplant Farci. Whatever she serves is my favorite dish.” Hungry yet? Try whipping up Mrs. Chase’s famous dishes, which are published in And Still I Cook (Pelican Publishing, 2003) . Her fascinating biography by Carol Allen— Listen, I Say Like This (Pelican Publishing, 2002)—also contains a few recipes.
Leah Chase’s Gumbo Z’Herbes
- 24 cups torn mustard, collard, and/or turnip greens (large stems removed)
- 6 cups torn beet tops, carrot tops and/or stemmed watercress
- 5 cups torn spinach
- 4 cups torn lettuce
- 2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 cups water
- 1 pound cooked smoked sausage
- 1 pound smoked ham
- 1/2 pound beef brisket
- 1/2 pound hot-style chaurice (Creole/Cajun pork sausage) or cooked andouille sausage
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1-1/2 teaspoons file powder
- Steamed rice
Thoroughly clean all greens and vegetables to rinse away the grit; set aside. In large kettle or Dutch oven combine all of greens, onion, and garlic. Add water. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut meat and sausage into bite-size pieces; set aside. Strain greens, reserving greens and broth. In same pan combine smoked sausage, ham, and brisket. Add 1 cup reserved cooking liquid. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. In large skillet cook chaurice until all of the fat has cooked out of it. Drain chaurice; reserving fat in skillet. Process greens, 1/3 at a time, in food processor until smooth.
For roux add flour to reserved fat in skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes (flour does not have to be brown). Add cooked flour to meat mixture. Stir to combine. Add pureed greens and 1 quart reserved liquid. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Add cooked chaurice, salt, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Mix well. Simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Stir in file powder and remove from heat. Serve over steamed rice. Makes 18 appetizer servings, or 8 to 10 entrée portions.