While this would be the perfect dish for Fat Tuesday, I didn’t make this tonight. This is what we had on Super Bowl Sunday. For the past couple of years I’ve made either this or Gumbo for the Super Bowl. Oh, I don’t make it for a party. When at all possible I completely ignore the game (I also don’t watch for “the ads” or the halftime show.) I make this because it’s one of my favorites, it makes the house smell good, and it’s a nice way to spend a sunday.
I use a recipe from Emeril Lagasse’s Louisiana Real & Rustic. It has no shellfish in it. I repeat: IT HAS NO SHELLFISH IN IT. I don’t eat arthropods. (Not true, I will actually eat crab in the form of crab cakes – I just like to say I won’t eat anything with an exoskeleton). It’s a simple chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya – peppers, onion, chicken, sausage and rice. I don’t use the white rice called for because I never have plain white rice. I use a sprouted rice blend and it works just fine.
I love the Aidell’s Cajun Sausage – we use it all the time, mostly because a. it tastes good, and b. I know what everything on the ingredient list is. In the wilting heat of summer (it’s NOT a dry heat – we’re in the crosshairs of two rivers and a delta!) this is the dish I dream about. You get it simmering on the stove, pour yourself a glass of white wine and relax. When I make it I make lots so I have leftovers for my lunch.
I have to admit that the first recipe I tried from this cookbook was the Gumbo. I’m quite proud of how mine does turn out, but after comparing recipes I realized I could get the flavors I wanted in this jambalaya…and only have one pan to clean. No second pan for cooking the rice. No stirring 25 minutes for a chocolate roux.
If you search for the history of jambalaya you will get a lot of stories and even more theories right down to the name. Jambon is the French word for ham, and Aya is an African word for rice. From there it’s all over the map (quite literally, as the cultural influences on jambalaya are varied). Like most recipes there is no “one true way” to make Jambalaya. Some people will argue against adding tomatoes, but I have friends who wouldn’t dream of Jambalaya without them. You can use whatever meat you want. This is a dish you can truly make yours while respecting the culinary tradition it is from.
For more about jambalaya, and a few great recipes see Marcelle Bienvenu’s article from The Times-Picayune here.
Normally, in the dead of winter, I would be drinking a Sazerac while attending to my jambalaya. However, it was an unseasonable 73 degrees last sunday, so chilled white wine had to stand in. Here’s a good recipe for the Sazerac, possibly one of the finest gifts New Orleans has ever given us.