Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Jambalaya!

Jambalaya, a-crawfish pie and file' gumbo
'Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou 
Okay, actually just the Jambalaya part of that.  But I've got Hank Williams III on the stereo, so that's gotta count for something.


Jambalaya is fascinating, delicious, and easy to make.  I'm not sure why it's not more popular outside of the South (a place I've still never been), but maybe it's considered lowbrow or something because much easier to make than it's fancier cousins, gumbo and étouffée.  If you're a subscriber to the Alton Brown school of knowing the background of your recipes, definitely read the Wikipedia entry on Jambalaya.

Since I've got some on the stove right now, I'll tell you how I usually make it...
  • Cut up a package of store-bought andouille sausage into approximately 1/2" sections (kitchen shears work better than a knife for this!) and drop them into a large stock pot over medium heat.  Let them cool through (ten minutes or so), moving them around once in a while so they don't burn too bad.  In the meantime, chop one or two bell peppers (in your choice of color - I'm partial to red), one medium onion (yellow or white), and one or two cloves of garlic (I just use the garlic press).  (Obviously celery is missing from the "holy-trinity" here, but it's tough to buy just a couple of ribs, so I usually leave it out.  Put some in with the onion if you're so inclined.)
  • Once the sausage is done, remove it from the pot and set it aside in a bowl, leaving the drippings and any stuck bits in the pot.  Saute the onions in the sausage drippings until tender, scraping up the sausage bits as you go, then add the bell pepper and garlic and cook for a few minutes more.  Add the sausage back into the pot.  
  • For the rice, I cheat.  I use packaged yellow saffron rice, which is both lazy and non-traditional, but it tastes good, so who cares?  Add the rice, stir to coat it with whatever liquid is left in the pot, and then add whatever amount of water the rice package calls for and finish based on the rice's instructions.  That probably means bring to a boil, stir, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let it cook for twenty minutes or so.  

So there you have it!  It's a whole meal in one pot, and it's definitely of the "stick to the ribs" variety.  And it takes just long enough to cook, you have time to clean up the prep stuff before the rice is finished.  If you haven't been typing the whole time, that is.

People who read the Wikipedia entry would know that this is "brown" or Cajun jambalaya.  If you prefer the "red", or Creole, variety, add some canned or fresh tomatoes before you add the rice.  This one is actually rather yellow because of the saffron, but I digress.

Sound tasty?  Have a better version?  Questions?  Lemme know.  :o)

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