Mardi Gras — “Fat Tuesday” in English — is the last feast day before 40 days of abstinence during Lent.
New Orleans is famous for Mardi Gras. NOLA celebrates for days with parades, dancing in the streets, costumes, masks, beads and lots of food and drink.
In the spirit of Mardi Gras, here is my recipe for Jambalaya.
Credited to Pat O’Brien’s bar in the 1940s, The Hurricane — concocted of rums, passion fruit juice, grenadine and simple syrup — is a fun drink and a mainstay in the French Quarter.
New Orleans gives us Creole or Cajun food. A simple comparison: Creole food uses tomatoes, whereas Cajun food does not.
Creole is considered “city food” because of the access a wider variety of ingredients, whereas Cajun is “country food.”
The common thread for both styles is “the holy trinity” of cuisine or mirepoix: onions, bell peppers and celery.
Jambalaya can be made either way and is a relatively easy. This recipe is a Creole dish. It calls for chicken, sausage and shrimp.
It requires an extra large skillet or a large Dutch oven. The proportions can vary with personal preferences, using more seafood or more chicken. The only ingredient to be careful with would be the rice. Too much or too little liquid (as well as over-cooking) might affect the outcome.
Ingredients: Serves 6-8
¼ cup of olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 boned and skinned chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning (more or less to your taste)
1 pound of Aidells Cajun Style Andouille Sausage*, sliced diagonally in 1” pieces
1 can of diced tomatoes (hot RoTel tomatoes will add a kick to it)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of thyme
2 cups of rice
4 cups of chicken broth
1 pound of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste
*Aidells Sausage is gluten-free
In a large pan (maybe 16 inches in diameter) or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the onions, celery and green pepper and cook until the onions are almost translucent. Add the garlic (watching closely so as not to burn, thus ruining the dish) and then the chicken. Brown the chicken on all sides and season with Old Bay. Add the sausage and cook long enough to heat up (generally this sausage is precooked). Should you use a raw sausage, cook it with the chicken.
At this point add the tomatoes, herbs and rice and blend together. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once this is at a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid or aluminum foil. You’ll cook this for about 45 minutes, checking and stirring in 15-minute increments.
Uncover the pot and pull the rice and chicken mixture back to the sides of the pan to create space to cook the shrimp and cook for two minutes. The shrimp will turn pink. Stir all of the ingredients together and there you are – Jambalaya.
I would serve this with a nice green salad, a crusty loaf of bread and some hot sauce, such as Texas Pete or Tabasco.