Food & Drink Magazine

Let the Good Times Roll with New Orleans Jambalaya

By Weavethousandflavors

New Orleans JambalayaNew Orleans! Its food is as colorful as its music and its people.

And though, the cuisine characterized by bold and spicy flavors has a variety of dishes that can fill a large book, when it comes to rice dishes, the Jambalaya is Chief. Not to be confused with the widely marketed boxed versions, to compare these with the traditional Jambalaya would be akin to granting  Spam, gourmet status

Rumor has it that the dish was born late one night when a traveler arrived at a New Orleans Inn long after dinner had been served. According to the story, the inn’s cook, named Jean, was told to “balayez,” or “throw something together” to feed the man. The results were delicious and the name  evolved over time  to “Jambalaya.”

The Jambalaya in its concept is a variety of meats such as chicken, ham and spicy sausage of course (such as Andouille or Louisiana spicy sausage) with or without shrimp, sauteed with 'the trinity' - onions, green bell pepper and celery, all in equal quantity & then cooked with tomatoes, spices in a broth to which is finally added the rice.

What is wonderful about this dish is that like so many old world foods it is a result of guesstimates and each family and cook has added their own little twist making it entirely their own. Mine too has evolved over a decade, adapted from various cookbooks, cooks & hearsay - starting off with everything from canned tomatoes to shellfish infused chicken stock, it is finally this version that is a kitchen staple.

Perfectly balanced in it's spice and heat, delicious and always turning out just as good whether you fix it once a year or once a month, this recipe is one I stand by time and time again. Though I cook mine in the oven and this deviates from tradition, it is the one way to ensure perfectly flavored rice bypassing the excess liquid-mushy rice issue.

It is also a feast that is  looked forward to with great anticipation in our home and we 'prepare' for it by eating a large breakfast and fruit juice for lunch so that when the Jambalaya makes an appearance for the evening meal, it is to a table of ravenous appetites and rumbling tummies!

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The main ingredients are:

Precooked Andouille or Louisiana hot sausage, chicken thighs - skinless and boneless, diced ham, shrimp, yellow onion, green bell pepper, celery, garlic cloves, long grain rice (I used basmati rice), chicken broth, clam juice, or fish stock, fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, butter, fresh parsley & green onions.

Spice blend - ground thyme or dried thyme leaves,  rubbed sage, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper.

 Prepare the ingredients-

Sausage - Cut into 1/4" thick circles and set aside.

Chicken - Remove excess fat and dice the chicken into 1" pieces.

Ham - If not pre-diced cut into 1/2" thick cubes.

Shrimp - De-vein & peel shrimp and leave the tails intact

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Onions - Peel, discard ends and skin. Finely chop and set aside.

Green bell pepper - Discard top, seeds and membranes. Finely chop and set aside

Celery - Discard bottom 1-1/2". Cut into 1/4" wide lengths and finely chop.

Garlic cloves - Peel and discard skin. Crush under a heavy weight and roughly chop. Set aside.

Tomatoes - Discard woody top. Finely chop. Reserve juices.

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Spice blend - In a clean, dry bowl gather - 3/4 tsp ground thyme or dried thyme leaves, 3/4 tsp rubbed sage, 1/2-3/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Set aside.

Rice - Measure and soak immersed in tap water.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F

Use a large, flat, heavy bottomed pan which is also oven safe - I am using my large chicken fryer which works really well.

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In the pan heat olive oil and butter on medium heat for about a minute or so. Add the sausage, ham and chicken in different corners of the pan. Do not mix them together.

Pan fry each meat in its own corner till the chicken meat turns opaque - about 5-10 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once chicken turns pale, combine all the meat together.

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Add the garlic, onions, green bell pepper and celery. Saute for another 5-10 minutes on medium heat until the onions sweat and turn transparent.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, spice blend, fresh tomatoes as well as the tomato sauce and stir to combine.

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In a separate sauce pan, bring 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of the clam juice or fish stock to boil.

Meanwhile drain the soaked rice in a sieve discarding the excess water. Add the rice to the tomato-meat mixture and stir very gently careful to not break the strands of rice.

Add only 1-1/2 cups of the stock into the rice mixture. Bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust the salt.

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Place a tight fitting lid over the pan and transfer into the hot oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Use a timer so you don't overcook the rice.

Cook's Note - Also if your oven has a tendency to overcook foods on one side, half way through the cooking process, turn the pot half way around to evenly cook.

Under no circumstances should you open the lid and peek during these 30 minutes or you will let out all the steam.

When you remove the rice the rice from the oven from the oven the rice will be more or less cooked but will still have some bite to it.

While the rice is cooking finely chop the parsley leaves and slice the green onions, stalks and all.

During the last 5 minutes of the cooking, bring the 1/2 cup of remaining stock to boil.

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Place the shrimp and the chopped parsley over the rice. Gently fluff up the top layer of the rice to partially cover the shrimp. Pour the stock all over the rice.

Replace the tight fitting lid over the pan and return to the oven for the final 15 minutes.

Remove the Jambalaya from the oven, garnish with the chopped green onions and serve immediately.

New Orleans Jambalaya

Doesn't that look just wonderful?

There is nothing quite like a good, made from scratch Jambalaya. The flavors of the meat, sausage and shrimp with the intense flavors of the rice infused with the spices, tomatoes and fish flavored stock is out of this world. So good was this that we polished the lot of it between the 2 of us and the kids!

The colors are as appetizing as the flavors and paired with some chilled beer, as they say in Nawlins, laissez les bonne temps roulez - Let the good times roll!

 

Recipe for

Classic New Orleans Jambalaya

Preparation time - 20 minutes

Cooking time - 15 minutes

Baking time - 45 minutes

Serves 4-6

Shopping list

4 large links Louisiana hot sausage or Andouille sausage ( to yield 2 cups sliced)

2 cups peeled, deveined shrimp, tails intact

1 cup diced ham

4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (to yield 1-1/4 cup diced)

6-8 garlic cloves

1 large onion ( to yield 1 cup chopped)

1 green bell pepper ( to yield 1 cup chopped)

2 large stalks celery ( to yield 1 cup chopped)

2 large fresh over ripe tomatoes

1# 15 oz can tomato sauce

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 bottle clam juice or 1 cup fish stock

1 cup chicken broth or stock

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs unsalted butter

fresh parsley (to yield 1/4 cup chopped)

4 stalks green onions

3 cups basmati rice

Spice blend

3/4 tsp ground or dried thyme leaves

3/4  tsp rubbed sage

1/2-3/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Preparation:

Sausage - Cut into 1/4" thick circles and set aside.

Chicken - Remove excess fat and dice the chicken into 1" pieces.

Ham - If not pre-diced cut into 1/2" thick cubes.

Shrimp - De-vein & peel shrimp and leave the tails intact

Onions - Peel, discard ends and skin. Finely chop and set aside.

Green bell pepper - Discard top, seeds and membranes. Finely chop and set aside

Celery - Discard bottom 1-1/2". Cut into 1/4" wide lengths and finely chop.

Garlic cloves - Peel and discard skin. Crush under a heavy weight and roughly chop. Set aside.

Tomatoes - Discard woody top. Finely chop. Reserve juices.

Spice blend - In a clean, dry bowl gather - 1/2 tsp ground thyme or dried thyme leaves, 1/2 tsp rubbed sage, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Set aside.

Rice - Measure and soak immersed in tap water.

Cooking Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F

Use a large, flat, heavy bottomed pan which is also oven safe - I am using my large chicken fryer which works really well.

In the pan heat olive oil and butter on medium heat for about a minute or so. Add the sausage, ham and chicken in different corners of the pan. Do not mix them together.

Pan fry each meat in its own corner till the chicken meat turns opaque - about 5-10 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the garlic, onions, green bell pepper and celery. Saute for another 5-10 minutes on medium heat until the onions sweat and turn transparent.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, spice blend, fresh tomatoes as well as the tomato sauce and stir to combine.

In a separate sauce pan, bring 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of the clam juice or fish stock to boil.

Meanwhile drain the soaked rice in a sieve discarding the excess water. Add the rice to the tomato-meat mixture and stir very gently careful to not break the strands of rice.

Add only 1-1/2 cups of the stock into the rice mixture. Bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust the salt.

Place a tight fitting lid over the pan and transfer into the hot oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Use a timer so you don't overcook the rice.

Cook's Note - Also if your oven has a tendency to overcook foods on one side, half way through the cooking process, turn the pot half way around to evenly cook.

Under no circumstances should you open the lid and peek during these 30 minutes or you will let out all the steam.

When you remove the rice the rice from the oven from the oven the rice will be more or less cooked but will still have some bite to it.

While the rice is cooking finely chop the parsley leaves and slice the green onions, stalks and all.

During the last 5 minutes of the cooking, bring the 1/2 cup of remaining stock to boil.

Place the shrimp and the chopped parsley over the rice. Gently fluff up the top layer of the rice to partially cover the shrimp. Pour the stock all over the rice.

Replace the tight fitting lid over the pan and return to the oven for the final 15 minutes.

Remove the Jambalaya from the oven, garnish with the chopped green onions and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

 


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