Today was one of those days where I wanted something that reminded me of childhood. I was also looking for a weekday brunch vibe. While rummaging through my fridge, it came to me: green gumbo shakshuka. It gives me the best of both worlds; North Africa meets the Creole Coast.
Green gumbo, also known as gumbo z'herbes, is a traditional Creole dish often served during Lent. Adhering to the "no meat on Fridays" rule, families make a big pot of green gumbo from whatever greens and herbs they have available.
Shakshuka is a dish that originates from Tunisia. Shakshuka, or shakshouka, translates to "a mixture" in Tunisian Arabic. The dish is traditionally a tomato veggie base, but we're branching out today. In reality, the leafy green base of this green gumbo shakshuka is closer in kin to callaloo found in the Caribbean and efo riro in Nigeria.
For a little oomph, I decided to add andouille sausage to the pan, but you can easily leave this out for a vegetarian version.
Green Gumbo Shakshuka
½ lb. andouille sausage, diced to bite-size pieces
2 tsp. + ¼ c. vegetable oil
¼ c. all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 c. water
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. Creole seasoning
¼ tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. thyme
½ head of cabbage, shredded
1 head of collard greens, thinly sliced
1 head of turnip greens, roughly chopped
Carrot tops, roughly chopped
Radish tops, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. filé powder
4 large eggs
Smoked paprika, to garnish
Fresh parsley, to garnish (optional)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 70 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
Special Equipment: Cast iron skillet with lid (you can also make a makeshift lid with aluminum foil)
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with two teaspoons of oil. Once hot and just shy of smoking, add the diced sausage. Fry until nice and golden brown, approximately five minutes. Set sausage aside.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add the quarter cup of oil. Let heat up for a couple of minutes. Now stir in the flour and mix vigorously so there aren't any lumps. Cook the roux until it's the color of peanut butter. If you're daring enough, you can cook it until it's the color of chocolate.
Once it reaches the desired color, turn heat to medium and immediately add the onions, celery and green pepper. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the trinity softens. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two.
Now start by adding one cup of water to the roux. You're mainly looking to loosen up the roux a bit and get it to a thick gravy consistency. Add more water as needed.
Slowly add the bay leaf, spice mix, cayenne and thyme. Stir until the roux no longer seizes and you have a nice gravy consistency.
Add all the greens and stir for a few minutes until lightly wilted. The greens will let out some water, but you can add a little more here. It should be enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan. You don't want it to be a soup.
Cover the skillet and let simmer gently for about 30 minutes. When the greens are nice and braised, add the sausage and filé and let cook uncovered for a couple of minutes.
Make four indentations in the mixture for the eggs. Crack the eggs into the indentations. Cover the skillet and let the eggs cook until they're to your liking, about 5-8 minutes.
Finish off with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and parsley. Serve with crusty French bread and enjoy!