Jambalaya is a dish people generally associate with the Cajun cuisine of Louisiana. I gather, however, that it probably originated in the Caribbean, although the name may actually be French, having its roots in a Provencal word meaning a mish-mash, or mélange of various ingredients. Whatever the truth of the matter, it is one of those concoctions that has many variations, with the basic theme being rice cooked with meat (most commonly chicken), spicy sausage, and seafood. It is a dish that I have cooked countless times, it being amongst my favorite types of meal, and about the only thing I can say with certainty about my efforts is that no two are ever exactly the same…
- 2 cups Long Grain Rice
- 3 cups Chicken Stock
- 1 cup White Wine
- ½ lb. Shrimp
- ½ lb. Spicy Sausage, cut into chunks
- 1 cup chopped Onion
- 2 thick slices of Bacon, cut into thin strips
- 1 cup each of Red and Green Bell Pepper, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup Okra, sliced into half-inch sections
- ¼ cup Tomato Paste
- ¼ cup of red Chili Pepper, sliced thinly
- ¼ cup of chopped Parsley
- 1 tbsp. Garlic Salt
For this experiment, the sausage I am using is a spicy dry Salami as that was the best I could locate. Andouille Sausage is commonly used, and Chorizo would also work nicely, but whatever you use, make sure it is one of the drier, harder varieties as they will stand up to the cooking and retain their flavor.
Heat a good, heavy pot over medium heat and add a good three or four tablespoons of olive oil. Sautee the bacon pieces until they render their fat and are jut beginning to get crispy and then add in the onion and chili pepper.
When the onion is soft and translucent, throw in the rice and the garlic salt and continue stirring until all the rice grains are coated in fat, then stir in the tomato paste and white wine.
Continue stirring the dish until the rice absorbs a little of the wine and some color from the tomato paste and then throw in the shrimp, sausage, okra and red pepper.
Add the chicken stock and then, when the liquid starts to boil, cover the pot and turn the heat to low.
Allow everything to cook for about twenty minutes and then uncover the pot and stir well to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Add the green pepper and the parsley, stir again and cover the pot once more. Let it cook for another ten minutes and then serve. If you like, and don’t mind a little non-traditional enhancement, pass some Parmesan cheese along with it at the table.
On this occasion, I made a bit of a mistake accidentally added only two, rather than three, cups of chicken stock at the beginning. I noticed things looked a little dry when I first uncovered the pot and added some additional liquid along with the green pepper and parsley. Thankfully, it all turned out quite well.
The okra was a first for me on this occasion and my wife and I both enjoyed the texture it gave the finished dish. The red chili pepper was also a bit of a change as I usually add just a pinch or two of pepper flakes. Jambalaya is not generally an exceptionally spicy dish but the heat that the fresh hot peppers added was very pleasant on this occasion. A few more shrimp would have been welcome (and next time I may add some squid), but, all in all, the result was very good.