I recently borrowed a wonderful cookbook from the library, a compilation of Cajun recipes and stories of the author’s family’s life on the bayou. For anyone not familiar with the term, Cajun refers to an ethnic group living mainly in the state of Louisiana consisting of descendants of Acadian exiles (French-speakers from Acadia in what are now the Canadian Maritimes). While some think Cajun and Creole (those who were descended from French and Spanish colonists) are the same, they are in fact not, especially in regards to cuisine. Creole cuisine tends to be more sophisticated and continental whereas Creole cuisine is rural, more seasoned, often spicy and tends to be heartier (like soul food).
To date I’ve made fried okra (that was a culinary adventure with a post coming soon) as well as Crispy Cayenne French Toasts from the book. (These were wickedly simple to make as all it required was mixing together olive oil and spices and then spreading it on slices of French bread.) Even the jambalaya was easy to prepare as well as being incredibly tasty and filling. While it wasn’t as spicy as I’m sure some variations of it are down in Cajun country, it was still excellent (I followed the recipe explicitly but some people might wish to add more “fire” to it).
To sum it up, chicken jambalaya is a great one pot dish consisting of rice, vegetables and various meats/seafoods. As I read somewhere, some say a version of it came about from homesick Spanish sailors who were anxious to for paella, a famous Spanish dish that bears many resemblances to jambalaya. I can definitely see why.
Have you eaten jambalaya before? If not, definitely be sure to try the recipe out!
recipe courtesy of In a Cajun Kitchen-Terri Pischoff Wuerthner
3 strips thick bacon, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
Two 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup raw rice
3 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons sliced green onions (optional)
-Cook the bacon in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven until it is crisp. Remove the bacon (leaving the drippings), crumble and set aside.
-Set the heat at medium-high, add the onion, celery, and bell pepper to the drippings, and cook until the vegetables are translucent, and browned, about 10 minutes, stirring often.
-Add remaining ingredients, except green onions, and bring to a boil, stirring to combine the ingredients.
-Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. (keep the heat adjusted so the jambalaya is cooking just under a simmer; add a bit of water, if necessary, to keep it from sticking.)
-Remove the bay leaves and serve sprinkled with the crumbled bacon and green onions.