Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Brown Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a classic Louisiana Creole dish. The Creole people are of French, Spanish, African, and Native American descent. The French contributed the name jambalaia and the dish itself is related to Spanish paella.  In and around New Orleans jambalaya includes tomatoes.  That is red jambalaya or city jambalaya. However, even though I love tomatoes, I am a fan of Brown Jambalaya, made without tomatoes. It is sometimes called Cajun jambalaya or rural jambalaya.

The brown color comes from the bits of meat and vegetables that stick to the sides and bottom of the pan. As you cook, just scrape them off and stir them into the mix.  Using a cast iron pan helps create those brown crunchies without allowing the food to actually stick.

After you make this a time or two, you can get creative. The easiest way to change it up is by using different sausages.  I use kielbasa.  However, you can use andouille which is spicy. You can even use Italian sausage or bratwurst.  I sometimes cook shrimp with the meat.  I don’t return it to the jambalaya until just before serving, otherwise it will overcook.  If you live with or are a hunter you can add anything you catch- turkey, deer, quail, or anything-this dish is very forgiving.  If you want red jambalaya then add canned stewed tomatoes with the rice, just make sure to adjust the liquid.

Brown Jambalaya meets my criterion for a good dish.  It is inexpensive, healthy, easy to make, and delicious.

Servings: 4-6
Hardware:  A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a large pot (I use cast iron) with a lid, a wooden spoon, slotted spoon, bowl
Time:  prep:  10 minutes, cook: 1 hour, rest: 3

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ pound smoked sausage
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion (1 ½ cup)
  • 1 green and 1 red bell pepper (1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • 2 ½ cups liquid (I used 2 cups chicken broth and ½ cup water)
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • Salt

  1. Cut the smoked sausage into 1 inch pieces then cut them in half length-wise. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.
  2. Cover the bottom of the pot in olive oil and heat on medium low.  Add the meat and cook until the chicken is brown on all sides. Don’t stir that often.  You want the meat to stick a little. Scrape off all the little brown bits that stick. This should take about 10 minutes.
  3. While the meat is cooking, dice the pepper, onion and garlic, the smaller the better.  Set aside.
  4. Use the slotted spoon to remove the meat.  Add the veggies.  Cook until the onions are soft.  Again, you want the veggies to stick just a bit.  Scrape up all the brown crunchies that stick to the bottom and sides.  When the onions are browned (another 10 minutes) return the meat to the pot.
  5. Add the rice and stir until it is coated with oil.  Stir in the liquid and seasonings and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Tuck the bay leafs into the rice.
  6. Cover with the lid and turn the rice down to simmer.  Simmer, without opening the lid, for 35 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Remove from the heat, with the lid still on, and allow it to rest for 3 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves and taste.  Adjust salt as needed.
  8. Fluff with a fork and serve warm.  Offer your guests hot sauce and pieces of toasted baguette.

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