Creole Jambalaya

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Av loves jambalaya and would probably eat it every single week if it was made that often. Last night I made it and it turned out great. Now, I like jambalaya really spicy but it doesn't have to be that way at all.

I've been thinking about how much I enjoy hearing stories about recipes (like the ones in community cookbooks and the newest I bought, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea). When I was in college, I had a friend who was from Dothan, Alabama. We decided to surprise my friend's mom and come in for Friday night supper, just for a quick visit.

It must have been when we were going to school during the summer quarter, because I remember it was just terribly hot. You know when it is uncomfortably hot even at night with the moon out, and it feels like there's no air moving? It was that kind of hot.

Well, we got to my friend's house and rather than ringing the doorbell (since this was supposed to be a surprise) my friend unlocked the front door and we started walking toward the kitchen where we could smell something delicious cooking.

We walked in (surprise!) and there was my friend's mom - now, my friend is from a very upper-middle class, very respectable, very nice family. The mom is standing there stirring jambalaya on the stove. With no shirt on! We scared her half to death and we were standing there shocked too! Oh, I have never blushed so hard!! Not exactly what we expected!! hahaha!! She apologized profusely...you could tell she was just embarrassed to no end...explaining that it was so hot outside, and so hot in the kitchen, that with no one else home at the moment she just couldn't help herself, she'd lost her mind, etc etc etc! It turned out to be really funny and every time I think about jambalaya I giggle to myself about the importance of keeping the kitchen nice and comfortable!

Anyway, jambalaya doesn't take too awfully long to cook, but it can heat up the room, especially on a hot night. Try to keep yourself together when you make it!

Okay, back to the recipe. This is for Creole jambalaya, which explains why it has tomatoes.

Ingredients (serves 6):
olive oil, for cooking the meat
1 polish sausage, cut into bite-size pieces - using andouille instead of polish would be great too
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
(now you could change up the meats here and use ham and shrimp, or just whatever you feel like)
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 scallions (green onions), chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
14.5oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
2 c. chicken stock (or if you are using shrimp, use shrimp or fish stock instead)
1 c. long grain rice
salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, or just use Tony Chachere's

Use a large pan with straight sides and a tight-fitting lid for this.

Brown the polish sausage in the pan with olive oil and at the same time, set the chicken breasts and broil them in the oven until almost done. When the chicken breasts get close to being done, add them to the pan to finish cooking with the sausage. Get the sausage and chicken nice and brown and tear the chicken into bite-size pieces. I just do this with a pair of tongs and a fork right in the pan.

Add the scallions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the pan and cook until tender (doesn't that look good already!?). Add seasonings:

Next, add the can of diced tomatoes with their liquid, plus the broth and the rice. Get it all mixed in well, bring it up to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cover the pan tightly. Leave the pan alone for 25 minutes:

At about 25 minutes, lift the lid and check the doneness of the rice - it ought to be cooked through. Check the seasonings again and serve:


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