Thursday, September 20, 2012

How to Make Easy Spicy Red Jambalaya

I like mine spicy! I'm talking about Jambalaya, of course. Jambalaya is so easy to make and there are a million different varieties. Cajun Jambalaya does not contain tomatoes and is also referred to as "Brown Jambalaya". Creole Jambalaya does contain tomatoes and so is aptly named "Red Jambalaya".  Jambalaya originated in the Caribbean Islands and was a mish mash of Spanish and native foods.  Jambalaya is primarily a rice dish or a pilaf (rice cooked in a seasoned broth). Gumbo on the other hand is a soup usually thickened with okra with rice cooked separately. I don't trust people who eat Gumbo or slimy okra.

A trinity of flavor...peppers, onion and celery
Start with a large dutch oven or very heavy cooking pot. Throw a couple of tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the pot and heat. Next, add one chopped up onion, half a chopped up green pepper, half a chopped up red pepper and about three stalks chopped up celery. Saute.

Pre-cooked chicken
My husband loves Jambalaya because it has so much meat in it. He said he felt tingly all over today just thinking about Jambalaya for supper.

I purchase chicken on sale, then bake it all at once. I cut up the baked chicken, freeze it on a flat surface for a couple of hours and then put the chicken chunks in a zip lock baggie.  This way, I only have to use my oven once and have a good supply of cooked chicken on hand to make a variety of meals. It really speeds up the cooking process if you don't have to bake the chicken. But if you don't already have some baked chicken, bake a couple of breasts, chop and add to the saute vegetables. Of course, you can cheat and buy pre-cooked chicken strips but they are not as good.

Pre-Peppered Hamburger
The best cooks just know how to cover their mistakes. The other night I was making tacos. As I was browning the hamburger, I went to add pepper. The lid fell off the pepper and about a third of a cup of pepper dumped into the skillet. It was inedible to all but people who make their livings as Fire Eaters. I froze the very peppery hamburger and have slowly been adding it to other dishes. So tonight, about a third of a pound of hamburger and a tablespoon of pepper went into the pot.

Instead of hamburger, you could use shrimp or ham. Personally, I hate anything that comes from the sea. I tell people I am allergic to fish. I am not, I just hate it. I have found if you tell people you hate fish, they will try to convince you fish is good and even go so far as to bring fish they have prepared  in a campaign to sway you to the fish side. However, if you say you are allergic, people tend to leave you alone.

Vegetables, hamburger and pepper
On to the best part, Andouille sausage. Trust me, you don't want to know a lot about sausage or what it is made of. Andouille is a heavily smoked, spicy sausage and exceptionally delicious if you don't over think it.

Andouille Sausage

Cut the sausage into little round bites of heaven and add to the pot. Continue cooking the mixture over medium heat.

Gettin' there
A dish without garlic is just naked. I added about five cloves of garlic. If you microwave the cloves for about 10 seconds, the outer covering will just slip off, making it very easy to put through a garlic press. If you don't own a garlic press, for goodness sakes go out and buy one.

Garlic about to be pressured
Next, add a couple of cans of tomatoes. And though I forgot to take a picture, also add a couple of cans of chicken broth.

Progress so far
 Now, add about one and half cups of uncooked rice. Do not use that horrible instant stuff. Use real rice.

Mr. French
I can't look at French's Worchestershire sauce without thinking about Mr. French, the butler on Family Affair. I really wish I had a butler. Or any staff at all. I've obviously been watching way too much Masterpiece Theatre.  Add about a tablespoon of Worchershire.

Creole Seasoning

Last ingredient, add one tablespoon Creole seasoning. Now if you really want to be authentic, add a teaspoon of file' powder. File' powder is ground sassafras leaves. If you are fresh out of sassafras leaves, just leave it out. I did.

Red Jambalaya
Now, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fully cooked. I forgot to take a final picture but believe me, it looked just like this but thicker.

It cost about $12 to make this dish because of all the meat. I considered it about 8 servings and my husband said four. So, between $1.50-$3.00 a serving depending on how gluttonous you are feeling.

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