This Will Help You Earn Your Beads…

Mardi Gras…one of my favorite times of year.  Unfortunately, I do not live in the south and do not have the pleasure of partaking in this long extended carnival.  (Maybe that’s a good thing).  However, I did live in Mississippi for a bit and have returned to my favorite city of New Orleans several times. The first couple of times I visited NOLA, I don’t quite remember the culinary scene, but I do remember every type of frozen drink I poured down my gullet.  As I have aged (not matured – lord almighty, no) and have broadened my love for cooking, my trips to NOLA are all about the food and the culinary traditions of the area.  Before I take a trip down there, I fast for about a week or two knowing that I will be getting three wonderful squares a day.

One of the traditional dishes of the New Orleans areas is Jambalaya.  There are probably 1001 ways to make it.  Here’s my take on it.  Enjoy!

Jumpin’ Jambalaya!

1 lb. smoked sausage – andouille, polish, etc. sliced into ½ inch circles

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsps. Butter

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs cubed

Salt and Pepper

1 large onion diced

1 bell pepper diced

2 large ribs of celery diced

3 cloves of garlic chopped

1 tbsp. thyme

2 cups long grain white rice

1 tbsp. Cajun/Creole seasoning – with a little extra to dust on chicken

½ 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 14oz. can diced tomatoes

2 ½ cups chicken stock

1 dried bay leaf

1 bunch green onions sliced green and white parts

Fresh chopped parsley to garnish with

In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, heat the olive oil to medium-high heat.  Toss in sausage and cook until brown.  While sausage is browning, toss the diced chicken with a dusting of the Cajun/Creole seasoning.  When sausage is golden brown, remove from pot and add chicken.  Cook chicken until browned.  Remove from pot.  Add more olive oil if needed and the butter to the pot. Toss in onion, pepper, celery and garlic.  Cook until soft.  Return the sausage and chicken back to the pot.  Add tomato paste, thyme, Cajun/Creole seasoning, bay leaf, rice, diced tomatoes and chicken stock.  Add salt and pepper to taste. When stirring in the remaining ingredients, make sure to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.   Cook covered for about 20-25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Remove bay leave and stir in ½ the green onions.  Put into serving bowl and garnish with remaining green onions and parsley.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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