Thursday, July 26, 2007

Food Blogging: Jambalaya

I haven't posted a recipe in a while, nor have I made Jambalaya. I did the latter a couple of days ago, so I'll do the former today.

Jambalaya is sort of a "quick meal" of Southern cooking, as it doesn't require any roux or long time at the stove. It uses rice in an unusual role, as usually the meal is served over a "bed" of rice cooked separately, while in Jambalaya the rice is cooked in and absorbs flavors as it cooks. You can vary this recipe quite a bit, and it would still be Jambalaya.

This is a Creole edition of the dish, and is my own recipe. I'm sure that it's based on something I read or that was passed down to me, but the source has been lost in antiquity. There's a Cajun version that's a bit different. If you beg me enough I might post that version at some date, but I seldom cook it, as I like this version better.

Jambalaya

1 ea red bell pepper, diced
1 ea medium yellow onion, diced
3-4 ea stalks celery, diced
2 ea chicken bouillon cubes, dissolved in 2 cups water
1 can petite cut diced tomatoes
2 lg boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ lb sausage (see below), cut into bite-sized pieces
½ lb small shrimp
½ cup frozen peas
1-5/8 cup long grain white rice, uncooked
2 tsp Oregano
2-3 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
5 tsp Creole seasoning see note below

Put tomatoes with juice in a mearuring cup and add water to make two cups. Put that into a large pot and add the two cups of prepared bouillon. Start the heat and bring that to a nice simmer while you are dicing the vegetables.

Cook the peppers, celery and onion in a skillet with some olive oil until they are just starting to wilt. Add them to the pot along with the garlic, oregano and Creole seasoning. If you want a little more “bang” for the taste buds, add a dash of Tobasco, and/or maybe just a little more Creole seasoning.

Brown the chicken lightly in the skillet and add it to the pot. Add the rice, stir it all up and put the cover on. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and let it cook, covered and without stirring, for about thirty minutes.

The rice should by now have absorbed all of the liquid. So we’re ready to add the sausage. If you put it in too early it will overwhelm the chicken. We’ll add the shrimp and peas now too, so that they don’t overcook.

Real jambalaya would call for andouille sausage, but people not raised on it may find something like that a bit highly seasoned for their taste. Any sausage will work fine, as the basic recipe is pretty highly seasoned. My wife likes it best with smoked beef sausage.

Brown the sausage in the skillet, cook it through and through if it's not precooked, and add it along with the shrimp and peas. Stir it all together and put the cover back on. Let it cook long enough, still on simmer, for the shrimp to be done, about ten minutes.

For the Creole seasoning, Zatarain’s brand is the “gold standard,” but I actually like McCormick’s a little better. If you want to make your own, combine 2 parts each onion powder, garlic powder, oregano & basil, 1 part each thyme, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, & celery seed and 5 parts paprika.

1 comment:

Barbara B. Solbrig said...

Jambalaya is best cooked in the camping Dutch oven in a camping site fire pit. Second best is in the Volcano in the yard, because we don't have a fire pit in our yard and aren't about to use the neighbor's. I am sure we will be running the Volcano as soon as ther are a few more folks home to cook for. Jambalaya is one of the top items to cook for/with Mr. A this year.

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