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Today was our day to cook for the "soup kitchen" down in Waltham, and Mike said our jambalaya was requested. (They requested either the jambalaya or the grape leaves...) This is the recipe we created about a dozen years ago:

Deb and Mike's
"No, we're not Cajun,
but we do have leftovers" Jambalaya


  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 T. corn oil (or whatever other kind of oil you have laying around)(good olive oil is wasted)
  • 3 lb. de-boned chicken breasts, cut into large (1.5 inch) dice
  • 2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped scallions (or shallots, if you know Priscilla, too)
  • 4 cloves garlic (cloves, NOT heads) or so
  • 2 cups chopped red pepper1
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 lb. miscellaneous pork: any mixture of leftover pork loin, ham, Andouille sausage, hot smoked sausage, etc. (You want some sausage in this, cut into rounds.)
  • 1 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves (yes, we know more than one bay leaf per recipe is almost illegal; it's certainly immoral)
  • 1 t. dried thyme
  • 4 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cans (25 oz.) tomatoes
  • 2 cups long-grained rice
  • Beer and/or water
  • 1-2 lb. shrimp, raw in shell (these may have been previously frozen), rinsed thoroughly

    To make this, you really need a cauldron. Or at least a large vat. We have a 5-gallon, heavy-bottomed, stainless steel brewpot, and a wicked long wooden spoon. (You do need a heavy-bottomed pan; one of those thin, white-enameled wussy things won't work.)

    Melt the butter and add the corn oil to it. Dump in all of the chicken breast cubes (or cubist shapes) and sauté until sort of browned. Remove the chicken to a large bowl (use a slotted spoon, because you'll need the excess oil). To this hot oil, add the onions, scallions, garlic, red pepper, and celery. If you are using uncooked pork for any of the "miscellaneous pork," add it at this point and cook with the veggies. Otherwise, just cook the veggies together, muttering "my, that looks lovely," and "will you smell that?" Sauté until veggies are golden and meat is sort of cooked.

    Dump the chicken back in. And all of the pork. And the spices. And the tomatoes. And the rice. You'll add about 3 bottles of beer or about 4 cups of extra liquid. Use up that BudCoorsMillerPabst (Milwaukee'sFinest) someone brought to your last party and nobody drank. Now's the time. Take a wooden spoon and give this all a good stir. You have now had your aerobic work-out for the day. Pat everything down, so all of the rice is below the liquid, more or less.

    Cook. For a while. Have a few non-expendable beers. Eventually, this will come up to a simmer. Have a couple more beers. This will cook at a simmer for about 45 minutes. You want it done, but you want the rice to retain some body, too. About 30 minutes into a 45-minute cooking time, add the shrimp, pushing them all down into the liquid. They'll cook up just fine.

    Correct seasoning with salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce TM.2

    Serve with beers.

    Notes:

    This is a leftover dish. It was created as a way to spice up and use up meat, extending it with rice and veg. So, several things should be remembered:

    You can toss in any peppers you happen to have (but Habañ eros and Scotch bonnets and so on should take the place of cayenne. This ain't Texas. This ain't chili.).

    The above is a recipe that has been doubled from the original guidelines. We never make this for the 6-8 that the original (un-Miked) recipe says it serves. We often use 9 lbs. or more of meat and shrimp. If you want, you can chop most of this in half (well, except the cauldron).

    If someone else shows up, calls at the last minute, or says they're bringing cousin Ernie, add more rice and more beer. No biggie.
    Don't serve this on paper plates. You'll be sorry. So will your carpet.

    Some accompaniements are nice. Salad works well. (Mike says French bread is okay.)(Except he whinges when I make him go to the store at the last minute to get it.) People may want to bring stuff to dinner, but if they find out we're making jambalaya, they often don't bother. (Which is a good thing, because this is already a helluva lot of food, and we'd have too many leftovers.) You can maybe make corn bread, if you have a good recipe.

    This does re-heat. Don't worry about the shrimp being re-heated; most of them get gleaned long before it's time to put the leftovers away.
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