Dish made with rice, popular among cajuns and creoles in Louisiana. Believed to be related to paella because of similarities in the recipes. The recipe that appears below is Chuck Taggart's and is used with permission:

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless chicken, cubed; AND/OR
1 lb. shrimp, boiled in Zatarain's and peeled; OR
1 lb. leftover holiday turkey, cubed; OR
1 lb. of any kind of poultry or fish, cubed; OR
Any combination of the above
1 lb. (hot) smoked sausage, andouille or chaurice, sliced on the bias; OR
1 lb. diced smoked ham
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 - 6 cloves garlic, minced (amount to taste)
4 ribs celery, chopped
3 small cans tomato paste
4 large Creole tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced; OR
1 28-oz. can tomatoes
8 cups good dark homemade chicken stock
Creole seasoning blend to taste (or 2 - 3 tablespoons); OR
2 teaspoons cayenne, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 1 teaspoon white pepper, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teapsoon thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
4 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked (Some people like converted rice, others prefer good old Mahatma.)

Instructions:

In a sauté or frying pan, brown the chicken, sprinkling with Tony Chachere's seasoning if you've got it; a bit of salt, black pepper and red pepper otherwise. Don't brown if using leftover cooked bird, but you still might want to season the meat. Tear or cut the meat into bite-size pieces.

Brown the sliced smoked sausage or andouille and pour off fat. In the pot, sauté the onions, garlic, peppers and celery in oil until onions begin to turn transparent.

In the same pot, while you're sautéing the "trinity", add the tomato paste and let it pincé, meaning to let it brown a little. What we're going for here is an additional depth of flavor by browning the tomato paste a little; the sugar in the tomato paste begins to caramelize, deepening the flavor and color. Keep it moving so that it browns but doesn't burn. Some friends of mine hate this step, so you can skip it if you want, but then it won't be Chuck's jambalaya.

Once the vegetables are translucent and the tomato paste achives sort of a red mahogany color, deglaze the pan with the about 2 cups of the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix up any browned bits, and stir until smooth, making sure the sautéed vegetables, paste and stock are combined thoroughly. It should be fairly thick.

Add the Creole seasoning, tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the meat and/or seafood and cook another 10 minutes; if you're using seafood, be careful not to overcook it.

Add the rest of the stock, check seasonings, and stir in the rice, combining thoroughly. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through. If you haven't checked your seasonings before adding the rice, it's too late! It's much better for the rice to absorb the seasonings while it's cooking. Check seasoning anyway, then turn the heat down to low-medium and let the sauce thicken up a bit, with the pot uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Stir thoroughly to combine all ingredients. When the jambalaya has thickened up a bit and has reached the "right" consistency (you'll know), it's done.

Serve with salad and French bread.

The similarities between jambalaya and the Spanish dish of paella are not too far apart. The term of "jambalaya" itself is derived from the Spanish word "jamón" (ham). The dish came into Creole cooking (which itself was influenced by French, Spanish, Italian, and German cuisine) sometime in the 1700s and started taking on some local influences in its ingredients.

Like most Creole dishes, jambalaya is essentially a "one pot" mix which includes rice, ham, chicken, shrimp, oysters, sausage, onion, garlic, peppers, and other seasonings. It's become one of the most ideal dishes for outdoor cooking and you're bound to see it at many outdoor festivals and political rallies in the Louisiana towns and cities.

It's been said that the Cajuns loved to cook and dine well because it brought a sense of reunion in spite of the tragedy of losing their land to the British. Jambalaya is the best example of that.

Jambalaya

This recipe may not be as "authentic" as others, because it is not tomato-based and the rice is baked, but if you try it I think you will agree that the flavor makes up for any lack of true Cajun-ness (and you won't find two jambalayas alike in Louisiana anyway).

The secret is the baked rice -- when rice is baked it splits and has a much richer, nuttier flavor which wonderfully complements the other ingredients. The spiciness can be adjusted by decreasing (or increasing!) the amount of cayenne pepper used, and substituting a milder smoked sausage for the andouille.

This recipe will serve about 8, and you'll need to plan on it taking at least 3 hours. But like all good things, it is worth waiting for!

Ingredients

First, you need to find yourself a large (6-8 quart {7.5-10 liter}), heavy pot which will work both on the stove top and in the oven (I use a cast-iron Dutch oven). Put the pot on the stove on medium heat. Chop the bacon relatively fine and cook it down.

While that is cooking, cut the chicken in large pieces and sprinkle liberally with the cayenne pepper. It will cook apart later, so don't make the pieces too small. Once the bacon is nice and crispy, take it out of the pot. We won't be using it, so toss it or save it to put on a salad -- whatever you want. Add the oil (I usually use peanut, but olive or vegetable will work just as well) to the bacon fat, let it heat, then place the chicken in the pan. Let the chicken brown on both sides, but take it out before it gets completely cooked. Set it aside, because we will be using this later.

Slice the smoked sausage and put it in to brown. Cut up the bell peppers, onion, and celery. Reduce the heat slightly and add these to the sausage. Cover and cook until the vegetables begin to get soft. Mince or press the garlic and add it to the pot. Add the green onions, chicken broth, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, tomatoes, and put the chicken back in. Let this mixture simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by about 1 cup (usually about an hour).

While it is cooking, preheat the oven to 325° F {160° C}. Add the rice, stir, cover tightly and bake for about an hour. Check it at 20 minute intervals, but only stir it up until about the 30 minute mark (otherwise you will break the grains of rice and the jambalaya will be too gooey, although it will still taste fine). It is done, not when the liquid is all absorbed, but rather when the grains of rice have split lengthwise.

Remove from heat, stir, and let sit for about 15 minutes. Serve with fresh bread and a green salad.

This recipe is based on "Chicken Jambalaya"
found in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
(Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 13th ed., 1996).



Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
by Hank Williams

This song has been covered by everyone from Ray Charles
to John Fogerty to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and in styles
ranging from cajun-French zydeco, to a show tune, to a hideous
80s pop version. I believe that these lyrics are accurate, but I
have no idea what "machez amio" means. That is what Hank
sings, and what most of the online lyrics say, but as far as I
can tell it's not French (which is the only language that would
make sense in a song sung from a Cajun's point of view). Even
if it is gibberish, though, the meaning is clear.

Good-bye, Joe, me gotta go, me-o, my-o,
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou.
My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me-o, my-o,
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou.

(Chorus)
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and a filé gumbo,
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my machez amio.
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o,
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou.

The Thibodeaux's, the Fontaineaux's, the place is buzzin',
Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen.
Dress in style and go hog wild, me-o, my-o,
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou.

(Chorus)
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and a filé gumbo,
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my machez amio
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o,
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou.

[This verse is often skipped, and was probably
added by one of the artists that covered the song.]

Settle down far from town, get me a pirogue,
And I'll catch all the fish in the bayou.
Swap my mon' to buy Yvonne what she need-o,
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou.

(Chorus)
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and a filé gumbo,
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my machez amio.
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o,
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou.

This is a recipe that I just tried for jambalaya that turned out surprisingly well. The basic method of preparation was learned during my hiatus at a restaraunt called Ragin' Shrimp, but I changed the ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 lb. kielbasa

3/4 lb. (Now this is important) Chuck Wagon(TM) brand bacon.

(Trust me: They call it bacon, but it's completely different.)

2 large bell peppers

2 white onions

16 oz. tomato paste

12 oz. stewed sliced tomatos

4 cups instant rice

4 cups water

(To taste)

Olive oil

Rosemary

Basil

Oregano

Cayenne Pepper

Ground Habanero

White pepper

Bay leaves

And anything else you happen to feel like throwing in. What can I say? I'm flexible. (Not like that, you sicko!)

Dice the peppers and the onions, and cross-slice the "bacon" into pieces. Sprinkle the peppers and onions with olive oil, and saute over medium-low heat with the diced bacon. When the onions are transcluscent, add the tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, water, and spices. Bring to a boil. Add the rice and kielbasa. Return to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes, then remove from heat and cover. Let the pot sit until the rice is cooked.

Consume.

Enjoy.

Refrain from swimming for at least 1 hour after eating.

Never drink and drive.

You can always trust your government, and the policeman is your friend.

This recipe brought to you by the Ghetto Gourmet!

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. Not responsible for damage or injuries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily the opinions of anyone. Do not aim at children or pets. Can be harmful or fatal if deliberately concentrated and inhaled. Any use inconsistent with package labeling is a federal crime.

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