As many of you know, I love New Orleans. In fact, I LOVE NEW ORLEANS. I could write an entire post about the city and how much fun I have when I go down to visit one of my besties, Erin, and my odd-ball friends down there. How I feel New Orleans has the very best food and drink in the country. And maybe one day I will. But today, I'm depressed about missing Mardi Gras so I tried to recreate a little bit of New Orleans in Fort Collins by making Jambalaya (p. 356)and bread pudding (the next blog post).
First, I browned some chicken in pot:
Then I removed the chicken and browned some andouille sausage (not as good as the andouille I could get in New Orleans but I had a several choices at the local grocery store, which surprised me). I removed the sausage and added onion, green pepper, celery, and crushed garlic (I love my new garlic press!):
I added some rice, tomato paste, and ground red pepper:
The tomato paste did NOT want to get mixed in--I actually really hate working with tomato paste for that exact reason. And I never use the whole little can so I end up throwing most of it out. I really need to start buying it in those tubes.
I added in boiling water (measure it after boiling, not before!), tomatoes (whenever TJOC asks for whole tomatoes, chopped, I just add diced tomatoes. I figure, what's the difference?), parsley, salt, thyme, pepper, and a bay leaf.
The chicken and sausage were added back to the pot and it was cooked until the water was absorbed and the chicken was cooked (use your food thermometer--nobody likes food poisoning). TJOC says this should take about 20 minutes but here in Colorado it took about twice that.
I let it sit for about 15 minutes and it was done!
How is it? Surprisingly good and accurate (in my frequent-visitor-but-not-from-New-Orleans-opinion). It was really easy and cheap to put together (both probably reasons why it became so popular in New Orleans). My mom pointed out that every culture has a version of this--something heavy on cheap starch or protein (like rice or beans) that can stretch meat (using it more as a flavoring rather than a costar in the dish).
I actually only had two problems with the recipe.
1. There was too much chicken in the recipe and I didn't like pulling it off the bone while eating the jambalaya. Plus, I don't really like chicken--my favorite jambalaya in New Orleans is at Coops Place and is made with rabbit (delicious!). I used only thighs, so the chicken was as flavorful as chicken gets, but I still think it would be better with shrimp or pork.
2. There was no Tabasco in the recipe. I just saw Princess and the Frog and they made it very, very clear that Tabasco was a requirement in jambalaya :) Instead I used my dad's special spicy death powder, which added a lot of spiciness and depth to the recipe.