Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jambalaya! Oh me oh my oh!

This delicious, spicy rice dish has been recently added to my repertoire. Jambalaya, a Creole and Cajun dish, is thought to be a New World version of the Spanish dish, paella. Before America acquired the Louisiana Territory from France in 1806, it had belonged to Spain, so foods of both French and Spanish heritage evolved there.

In Cajun cooking there exists something called “The Trinity.” It consists of onion, garlic and bell (green or red) peppers, chopped and sautéed together and used as a base for a dish. I have difficulty with bell pepper (I like it, but it doesn’t like me) so I omit it. But it is included in the recipe to add to its authenticity. The proper sausage to use in Jambalaya is andouille (pronounced ahn DWEE), but it can be difficult to locate. When he couldn’t find andouille, my late husband used to make a killer Jambalaya using kielbasa or chorizo, but you can use milder sausages if you prefer…spicy does not have to be synonymous with hot!

My thanks to IndigoWrath for the recipe I used as a base for the following dish, a meal that my husband pronounced a “winner” and requested for dinner a second night in a row!

Jambalaya Ingredients:
¼ cup butter
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
5 celery sticks, sliced thin across the grain
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
½ lb sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp Cajun Spice Mixture (if you can’t buy a Cajun spice mix, add the following)
--½ tsp ground cumin
--¼ tsp red chili powder
--¼ tsp ground black pepper
3 shakes red pepper sauce (more if you like it spicy)
1 cup long grained rice (Basmati rice works well)
1 14oz can of chopped tomatoes, including liquid
1 cup vegetable stock, white or rose wine
1 cup water
¾ cup fresh carrots, cut small
2 smoked chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ lb fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ cup frozen baby peas
Coarsely ground sea salt to taste

In bottom of deep pan, melt butter and sauté onion, garlic, peppers, celery and spices. Add chicken and sausage and cook until sausage is browned. Add rice and stir around to fully coat rice with butter.

Add tomatoes, stock/wine, and water, cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add carrots. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes or until rice has absorbed all of the liquid.

Turn off heat, taste and salt as necessary. Add shrimp and peas, stir to cover shrimp with rice. Cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes…the residual heat in the rice will cook the shrimp without toughening it.

Serve with crusty French bread and garlic butter.

Photo by The Marmot, Flickr

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