December 19, 2016 – When I really feel the need for comfort food, I go back to the beginning. The wonderful foods of Louisiana. Gumbo. Red beans and rice.
Let me clarify a misconception I’ve heard. Even worse, a misconception I’ve seen served in restaurants. Gumbo and jambalaya are not the same!
Gumbo is a roux-based soup served over rice.
The best way to describe jambalaya is that it’s more of a casserole with cooked rice folded in toward the end of the process.
What they have in common is that historical necessity to make the most of what food was available about which I have written before. As with gumbo, you can put most any meat, seafood, or poultry in jambalaya. The name comes from the French word for ham, “jambon.” Hence, ham or some form of pork is usually included. After that, it’s a case of ‘What’s in the refrigerator?'”
We had a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and some excellent sausage. While I prefer andouille sausage, we had kielbasa. To be specific, we had kielbasa wiejska, or farmhouse sausage, one of the three types of Polish kielbasa. It would do nicely.
This amount of meat would not produce the large pot of jambalaya that one would expect to see bubbling on a Louisiana stove. But there were only two of us. It would produce just the right amount.
I used Tony Chacere’s Creole Seasoning. It is spicy and adds a little heat. If you don’t want spicy, just season with salt and pepper.
The tomato sauce I had on hand was made with fire-roasted tomatoes. More flavor to the pot.
Like so many Louisiana dishes, jambalaya begins with the “Trinity.” Chopped onion, celery, and green pepper sautéed in oil. I admit that we didn’t have a green pepper. But we had a jalapeno. What the heck! It’s a pepper and it’s green. And it added another dimension of flavor and spice.
In fact, it was terrific!
2 tablespoons olive oil
Two boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
Two links andouille or kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Tony Chacere’s Creole Seasoning to taste (or salt & pepper to taste)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 jalapeno (or sweet green pepper), chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 green onion, sliced
2 cups cooked rice
Heat the oil over medium high heat.
Add the chicken and sausage. Brown for three to five minutes. Keep an eye on the chicken. It will brown quickly. You don’t want to over cook it.
Remove the chicken and sausage with a slotted spoon. The sausage especially will have released more oil. Drain most of it off, leaving only enough to saute’ the Trinity.
Add the onion, celery, pepper, and garlic to the pot. Saute’ until tender, again three to five minutes.
Stir in the tomato sauce. Return the chicken and sausage to the pot. Cover and simmer for about five minutes. Add the parsley and green onion. Saute’ for another three minutes, covered.
Fold in the cooked rice. Add more tomato sauce if additional liquid is needed. Cover and simmer for a final five minutes.
Garnish with fresh parsley and chopped green onion.