Wow! It seems like I have been gone forever.I looked back and saw that it has been more than ten days since my last post. Over the last week and a bit we have barely been home. We have travelled all across much of southwestern Ontario. We have been to Bright’s Grove (just outside Sarnia), Dresden, Belle River, Windsor, and Aurora. The time between Christmas and New Years was a whirlwind, going from one family Christmas to another. It is a great opportunity to visit some family that I only see once or twice a year.
My brother and his family moved to Ontario (from the prairies) this fall and we got to spend Christmas at their beautiful home. It was great to see my kids playing with their daughter. Now that the cousins are closer to each other I think that they will be spending a whole lot more time together.
I have been looking forward to getting back to the food blog and sharing some recipes with you. Today’s recipe is one that I make all the time. It comes from one of the first cookbooks I ever owned, Chef Paul Prudhoome’s Louisiana Kitchen. If you want to learn Creole or Cajun cuisine, this is an essential cookbook to have on your shelf. In his book, Chef Paul teaches some quintessential Cajun and Creole dishes like, shrimp creole, crawfish pie, etouffee, blackened fish and today’s post, jambalaya.
Jambalaya is a classic Cajun/Creole dish that is a baked rice casserole with meat, veggies and Cajun seasoning. The seasoning for creole cuisine has a standard collection of spices. Pepper is essential and is typically all three (black, red and white). Also included is thyme, salt, garlic and sometimes bay leaves, sage, basil and oregano. I need to confess upfront that there is one spice standard to Cajun cooking that I detest. There are not many foods that get a rejection from me, but there are a few (condensed milk, apple cider vinegar, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta are a few). The spice that I hate in Cajun cooking is white pepper. White pepper is the same as black pepper except that it is allowed to ripen fully. I find that the odour of white pepper resembles that of a barnyard so that gets a quick omission from any recipe by me.
Chef Paul’s jambalaya uses chicken and tasso (Cajun ham) but I used chicken and andouille. Andouille is a spicy smoked sausage. Since I have purchased a smoker, I make my own andouille and it is outstanding. To make this jambalaya you can use a countless variety of meat combinations (chicken, shrimp, Italian sausage, kielbasa, steak, etc.). Just use the same total weight of meat and you should be fine.
Slice or the meat and chop up the veggies. Cajun cooking often uses equal amounts of onion, celery and pepper.
Fry up the meat first, following by the onions, celery and peppers. Then add the tomatoes and spices and cook for a few minutes.
The raw rice and water is added to the pot and then the jambalaya is dumped into a casserole dish. Cook it, uncovered, at 350F for 1 hour. The rice should be fully cooked and absorb all the water.
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp ground sage
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3/4 pound andouille , sliced
- 1 pound chicken breast , cubed
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped green pepper
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups rice
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the andouille and cook it for a couple minutes. Add the chicken and cook until the meat starts to brown, around 5 minutes.
- Stir in the onions, celery, pepper and garlic and cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
- Pour in the can of diced tomatoes and spices and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the rice and water and pour the jambalaya mixture into a casserole dish.
- Bake uncovered in a 350F oven for about an hour or until the rice is cooked and has absorbed all the water.