In the pantheon of one dish wonders, it’s hard to beat a great Jambalaya, another of Louisiana’s culinary gifts to the rest of the world. It is said that the first Jambalaya came out of the French Quarter. It was an attempt to cook Paella, with whom it shares many ingredients. But absent the saffron Paella requires, tomatoes were used as a stand-in. There are two kinds of Jambalaya—Creole and Cajun. This recipe has lots of tomato in it and so qualifies as Creole. Cajuns refer to this version as red Jambalaya. Aside from the tomatoes, the major difference is that Cajun or brown Jambalaya is more smoky and spicy.
|The all essential ‘holy trinity’|
There’s almost nothing that you can’t put into Jambalaya. Chicken and sausage are followed by vegetables and rice and finally with seafood in the Creole Version. The Cajuns, living as they did in swamp country where crawfish, shrimp, alligator, duck, turtle, boar, venison and other game were readily available used these meats in many combinations. But they eschewed tomatoes altogether. Both versions start with ‘the holy trinity’ of Louisiana cooking: Onions, Bell Peppers and Celery. Although no one is quite sure where the name Jambalaya came from it’s been popular in good times and in bad because of its ‘throw everything into the pot’ composition.
This version, which first appeared in Coastal Living magazine, is very easy to make and takes less time than you’d think—about 20 minutes to prep and 40 minutes to cook. It is greatly helped along by the use of cooked long grain rice. (Original recipes cooked everything but the rice and the seafood for about an hour when the rice was added for the another 30 minutes and the seafood for the last five.) I confess to cheating on the rice. I couldn’t see cooking rice separately so I went to a local Chinese restaurant where I bought a pint container of steamed rice. For $1.36, it seemed like a small price to pay for some labor saved. Even though this is a Creole version, I went a little Cajun. I upped the spice quotient with some McIlhenny Tabasco sauce. The McIlhennys has been making the sauce on Avery Island, Louisiana since 1868 where it still owned and operated by the same family. You can’t get much more authentic than that. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya adapted from Coastal Living Magazine.
12 ounces Andouille or other spicy smoked sausage, sliced (I used Andouille Chicken sausage to cut calories without cutting flavor)
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 celery ribs, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked long-grain rice
6-8 shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 green onions, chopped
McIlhnney’s Tabasco Sauce to taste
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage, and cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon; set aside.
2. Add onion and next 7 ingredients to hot drippings in Dutch oven; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in reserved sausage, tomatoes, broth, and rice. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 25 minutes or until rice is tender.
3. Stir in shrimp; cover and cook 5 minutes or until done. Check for seasoning and add McIlhenny’s Tabasco Sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Put into bowls and sprinkle each serving with green onions.