Tuesday, March 8, 2011


iH a p p y  M a r d i s  G r a s !i

those are bona fide Mardi Gras beads
from New Orleans in the background
Since today is Fat Tuesday, I thought I'd get in the spirit of Mardi Gras and cook up a big pot of jambalaya. There are many variations of jambalaya, (the most common being sausage & chicken and shrimp). This one has a bit of everything thrown in (I like to think of it as jumble-aya). Of course the beauty of a dish like this is that it's very flexible, so you can make it with any protein you want and adjust the spiciness to your liking.

I chose this recipe because a) Emeril is from New Orleans, so I figured he should know his way around jambalaya (or get his ass kicked out of town if he doesn't) and b) I already had a jar of Essence of Emeril seasoning from when I made crab cakes last month.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
1 lb. andouille sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
3 cups chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon Essence of Emeril Original Seasoning (store bought or see recipe below)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon cayenne*, divided
1 heaping tablespoon chopped garlic
1 1/2 lb. boneless chicken thighs and breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 lb. ham steak, cubed
3 bay leaves
3 cups medium-grain white rice
6 cups water
1/2 lb. medium, shelled raw shrimp
1 cup chopped scallions, green tops only
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1.      Heat the oil in a large cast-iron Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, Essence, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the cayenne. Stirring often, brown the vegetables and sausage until they are caramelized, about 15 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pot to loosen any browned particles.
2.      Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Season the chicken with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Add the chicken, ham, and the bay leaves to the pot. Brown the chicken for 8 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned particles.
3.      Add the rice and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to coat evenly. Add the water, stir to combine, and cover. Cook over medium heat for 30 to 35 minutes, without stirring, or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
4.      Add the shrimp during the last 5 minutes of cooking and cook until just pink. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the green onions and parsley. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

*use more cayenne if you want it very spicy (but be careful because the andouille adds a
  fair amount of spice)

Essence of Emeril Original (Creole) Seasoning
Yield: about 2/3 cup

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika 
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 
1 tablespoon dried oregano 
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse
sausage cooking with onions, peppers, celery & spices
chicken & rice already added
water added
adding the shrimp (my shrimp was on the
large side, so I chopped it up a little)
jambayala time!

Laissez les bon temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!) That's the unofficial motto of New Orleans. I've been there several times and never actually heard anyone say that, so don't hold your breath if you visit. But that is the general feeling in the air. It's a great, really fun city (of course I'm a little bias because my sister lives there, so it's kind of like a little piece of me is there too).

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