Friday, June 22, 2007

Jambalaya-ya-ya!

First, here's a little video to get you in the mood for some kicking Jambalaya. Wow! can you believe a four year old kid can sing and dance like that? Oh hey, check out those cool moves, too. If you're on pokey-slow dial-up internet connection like I am, I can guarantee that the long wait will be worth your while. Enjoy your Jambalaya!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQPEsa5e7K0&mode=related&search
Please pull up the Hunter Hayes "Jambalaya on the Bayou" video.
By the way, I am not sending my readers to any other links that may be on the same page. Link advisory: some sites may contain tasteless or downright raunchy You Tube videos that is sure ruin your appetite for good food.

This is a book excerpt from my handbook series:


JAMBALAYA, the story and the recipe

For those of you who are not familiar with this kind of cooking, first things first:

South Louisiana cooking has become popular because of the wonderfully complex flavors that come from a blending of French, Spanish, Native American, Caribbean, African and other cooking cultures. It is highly adaptable to a wide range of ingredient substitutions, making it one of the most economical cooking styles around.

If you leave out any of what is known as the "holy trinity" (chopped onions, bell pepper and celery, sauteed in a small amount of oil), you have left out a little bit of the soul of Louisiana cooking. Some, like me, like to throw the "Pope" (garlic) into the pot (I suppose I coulda worded that better).

This Jambalaya recipe reflects some of my heritage: French/Native American/los Islenos Spanish. When my mother's mother's side of the family (early los Islenos, also known as Spanish Canary Island Settlers) came to the New Orleans area in the 1700s, they brought the recipes for their wonderful paella. Since all the ingredients could not be found in the area, they "made do" with what they found. Oysters, shrimp, crab, chicken, duck, alligator, crawfish, etc. replaced the clams and mussels called for in the original recipes. A long time ago, the locals around New Orleans called these improvised recipes of the los Islenos, "Jambon a la yaya". Yaya is the African word for rice. Now it is called Jambalaya, and it is delicious!

Now that you know one of the stories behind it, here's a good Jambalaya recipe. Save a bundle on the commercially boxed version that is sold nowadays.


PureCajunSunshine's JAMBALAYA (meat or meatless)

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 lb (or more) boneless & skinless meat (any kind will do: chicken breasts, rabbit, turtle, deer, alligator or just about anything that don't eat you first)

12 ounces (or more) your favorite smoked sliced sausage (I like to use Andouille, which is a delicious South Louisiana sausage that is perfect for seasoning old-time Jambalayas, Gumbos and Red Beans & Rice. Not to be confused with the continental French "andouillette", which is a tripe sausage(yuck). A good quality Keilbasa sausage may be used instead.

If going no-meat, use 4 - 6 cups cooked black-eyed peas or black beans, or 2 or 3 cans of storebought'en. Whatever you use, make sure it is flavorful and seasoned well.


1 medium-large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small-medium bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
(beginner cooks: a clove is a single "toe" taken from the main
bunch)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with the juice
a few dashes (about a teaspoon)of your favorite hot pepper
sauce (preferably Louisiana hot sauce)
2 tablespoons or more of your favorite cooking oil
1 1/2 cups of water (or stock/bouillion for extra flavor)
salt & pepper to taste
4 to 6 cups hot cooked rice
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Cajun spice blend, more or less, to taste

Cajun spice blends are found in groceries almost everywhere in Southern America nowadays, because a good thing is hard to hide...(Just curious, is it available in Northern states??) For our friends in other lands, a recipe for a famous Cajun seasoning blend will follow Jambalaya recipe.

Nice touches, if you have it: 1 teaspoon filé powder (powdered Sassafras leaf, and pronounced FEE-lay); 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato sauce/spread (such as Classico brand or something similar; 1 cup fresh green onion tops, chopped. The filé powder and green onion tops are added at the very end of cooking. Wild edibles such as chickweed, cattail roots, violet leaves, etc. can be added to Jambalaya.


DIRECTIONS:

Heat a large, heavy dry pan over medium-high heat. Cast iron is always good. Add a very tiny amount of cooking oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add sliced sausage. Cook until browned (about 30 minutes). At this point it is ok if some of the browning sausage (and added meat) sticks to the bottom of the pot. This will give the Jambalaya extra flavor and a nice brown color. Remove sausage, keeping the drippings in the pan for next step. Cut chicken (or whatever meat you have on hand)into half-inch pieces and brown in remaining oil. Return sausage to pan and add onion, celery, garlic and peppers. Cook over medium heat until the the vegetables are almost tender. Add tomatoes and their juice, along with a cup of water (or stock/bouillion). Stir well. If you have bits of meat stuck to the pot, remove from heat and allow to cool a little. Work the bits loose with a large spoon. Return to heat, turned low. Add Cajun spices and hot sauce, stir well, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on taste preferences or time allowance. Add cooked rice, stir well and heat through.

For a one-dish meal, I sometimes add a bit of cooked okra, collard, mustard or turnip greens (leftover or canned), canned corn, black beans, etc. Adjust your seasonings according to the amount of extra veggies or beans that have been added.


MAKE YOUR OWN CAJUN SEASONING:


Here is a recipe for Emeril's Bayou Blast. This homemade version is not as complex as the commercial version, but it'll do:

2 1/2 T. paprika
2 T salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T black pepper
1 T cayenne pepper powder
1 T oregano, dried and crumbled fine
1 T thyme, dried and crumbled fine

Combine all ingredients, mix well. Pour into a clean salt shaker.
Use on just about anything. Sprinkle generously before cooking.



This recipe is from Tony Chachere's Cajun Country Cookbook:

Tony Chachere's All-Purpose Creole Seasoning

1 box (26-oz) Morton's free flowing salt
1 box (1 1/2 oz) ground black pepper
1 bottle (2-oz) ground red pepper
1 bottle (1-oz)pure garlic powder
1 bottle (1-oz) chili powder
1 carton (1-oz) Monosodium glutamate (Accent)

Mix well and use like salt. When it's salty enough, it's "seasoned to perfection". Use generously on everything.

Tips: To season seafood use half of the above mixture and add:

1 tsp powdered thyme
1 tsp bay leaf
1 tsp sweet basil



Ça c'est bon! (that's good!),
PureCajunSunshine


This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:


This recipe is an excerpt from . For more information, see the left sidebar on this site: http://purecajunsunshine.blogspot.com/

2 comments:

Mytbob said...

I grew up in New Orleans and know good Creole and Cajun cooking.
The Jambalaya recipe shown here is the real thing.
Kudos to the author for publishing an authentic, easy-to-prepare recipe for a classical New Orleans favorite.
Bob Williams

Kari said...

Excellent story and recipe, PCS.

Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler!

~Kari