Sunday Gravy with yeah right – Jambalaya Two Ways

yeah right

Mahning folks. Glad y’all could make it.

No fuck that, my shitty attempt at a Cajun accent would tire out faster than a fat hound on a squirrel hunt.

Sorry.

Welcome back to Sunday Gravy everyone.

Got a good one for you today. This is one of those dishes, like chili that every decent cook needs to make. Also similar to chili is the fact that no two recipes are exactly the same. This one allows you to freestyle a bit as long as you stay true to the basics. Finally another comparison to chili being that this is a perfect tailgate food for feeding the hungry and drunken masses.

We’re going to make some Jambalaya two ways today.

Shit howdy!

Before we start I wanted to re-tell a fun jambalaya story. Piss off! Us old bastards are allowed to re-tell stories that we’ve forgotten that we’ve told already. It’s not senility, it’s reminiscing.

Just smile and nod.

My best buddy – a Packers fan – and I made a pact decades ago to see our two teams play each other. Once in Minneapolis and once in Green Bay. This is from the Green Bay leg of that trip.

My buddy’s girlfriend, wife now, contacted me about surprising him for his birthday. She had heard about our pact to see our teams play each other and she wanted to make the arrangements and that included me meeting them in Green Bay for a surprise birthday present. Logistically this was interesting because they live in Jersey and I live in L.A.

She booked everything through Packers Tours, this included airfare, tickets, a tour of Lambeau, rooms at the Sheraton which is connected to the Oneida Indian Casino and Conference Center, transportation to and from the game, some Packers tchotchkes, a Packers stadium blanket – very suitable for wiping my ass with – and last but not least passes to a tailgate party at Brett Farve’s Steakhouse adjacent to Lambeau. Yes the “tiny unit-ed one” was still the Green Bay QB.

Everything went fine, apart from my flight from Chicago to Green Bay being delayed causing me to miss the stadium tour. I meet up with my buddy, his wife, and one of my godsons at the hotel bar and frivolity ensued. Oh, yeah! Just remembered, I won a shitload of cash at the Indian Casino playing blackjack.

Day of game we all load up on some buses for the transportation to the game/tailgate party. The driver even took a detour though a very Midwest looking housing tract to give us a glimpse of “Brett Favre’s hoose!” uttered in her hilarious accent. I stayed on the bus while everyone else took selfies. Jesus please-us. The bus rolls into the stadium parking lot and we head to the tailgate.

It was everything you imagined. A rock and roll polka band playing all of your favorite tailgate songs including “The Bears Still Suck” tons of alcohol and a tent with acres of bratwurst, burgers, dogs, chips etc and a table laden down with trays of Brett’s famous jambalaya. I tried all of the above.

Will I accept responsibility for drinking beers, eating brats and jambalaya while outdoors in 30 degree weather at 9:00 AM? Abso-fucking-lutely I will. Then again I was wearing a Vikings jersey at a Packers tailgate party next to Brett Favre’s Steakhouse.

Without getting into the horrid details too much, I came down with a nice bout of food poisoning that lasted for the next 3 days.

To this day I still say that Brett Favre poisoned me and to this day I know what the inside of every men’s room in Lambeau, the Lambeau Atrium and the greater Green Bay metro area looks like.

Motherfucker.

Besides my jambalaya kicks the crap out of Brett Favre’s. Which, now that I think about it, is kind of poetic justice.

My bonefides for this dish include my grandmother being from Baton Rouge as well as her being a beer swilling swamp denizen of the purest ray serene. She gave me the influences and the ideas for all of my Creole cooking.

Previous Creole recipes include:

Shrimp and grits.

and

Grillades and grits.

With plenty more to come.

Jambalaya!

2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs – you can use breast meat but it won’t stew as well.

1 pound of smoked sausage – sliced up. If you can get a good andouille use that. I had to use hot links here.

1 pound of fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined.

1 onion chopped.

1 green bell pepper cleaned and chopped with seeds removed.

3-4 stalks of celery cleaned and rinsed and chopped.

Shit tons of garlic. Probably 6-7 cloves minced.

2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes – since my Dad’s family came from Texas I used 1 can of tomatoes and 1 can of Rotel tomatoes and chilies. Fuck heresy, this is family shit here.

2 bay leaves.

1 teaspoon of dried thyme.

1 teaspoon of cayenne.

2-3 tablespoons of “essence.” We’ve discussed “essence” plenty of times in the past.

2 tablespoons or a couple of good shakes of hot sauce. I’m not a big fan of Tabasco so I used Red Rooster Louisiana Hot Sauce. Use what you like.

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.

2 cups of chicken stock.

1 cup of rice – cooked or uncooked – we’ll get to that,

For today I also used some angel hair pasta, cooked to al dente. We’ll get to that too.

Here we go.

Now class, what do we have here? Minus the garlic of course.

If you said the “holy trinity” you get your Cajun wings. That’s right, celery, onion and bell pepper comprise the trinity and it’s the backbone of almost all Creole cooking. Chop up your trinity first.

Next get the chicken up to room temp and let’s get to searing it.

We are going to season the chicken thighs on both sides with plenty of the essence. If you don’t want to fuck around and make a batch of essence just use paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and thyme which now that I think about it is pretty much the same fucking thing as essence. Anyway.

Cook for about 5-7 minutes per side.

Working in batches brown all of the chicken then remove from the pan.

Now we’re going to add the trinity to the pan drippings and cook that for about 10 minutes. You will need to use a wooden spoon and scrape up all of the browned chicken bits from the bottom of the pan as the vegetables saute and turn translucent.

When the trinity has cooked down for the allotted time get the rest of the ingredients in the pool. Back goes the chicken, then toss in the sliced sausage, the garlic, the extra thyme, cayenne, the hot sauce, the Worchestershire, bay leaves, the chicken stock and both cans of tomatoes.

Season with some of the remaining essence and bring to a simmer.

Now. Here’s where today’s variations come in. Many people will cook the jambalaya as we just prepared it for about 30-40 minutes and right now at the start of the simmering they add in the uncooked rice and let the chicken stock and the rest of the juices cook the rice through. This is a perfectly fine technique and leads to a much denser jambalaya. I’ve seen some that are basically like a paella, a thick, one dish rice-forward concoction like this.

image via

That’s not what I’m going for today. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the rice-centric jambalaya and I would even recommend this method for the tailgating thing. It’s easier to eat, prepared in one big dish and it will feed a fucking bunch of people.

Not today. I wanted a more stew-like consistency and I want to serve this over a choice of two starches. In order to make it this way, let the stew simmer for about 1 hour and 20 minutes without adding rice. We want the chicken to start breaking down and this will get those flavors nice and condensed. It will be a purer form and the spices will really be front and center. Cooking it with a big pot of rice just dilutes it too much for me.

There we go. After the jambalaya has thickened some, turn off the heat and add the cleaned shrimp. Trust me, this shit is plenty hot enough to finish cooking the shrimp with the burner turned off.

Let the shrimp cook in the sauce until they are nice and pink.

Now let’s get our starches cooking.

Rice is in the back and the pasta water is in front.

When the starches are ready we will place a scoop of rice on one side of the plate, a scoop of the angel hair pasta on the other side of the plate and ladle on some of the jambalaya. My version today allows you to use as much or as little sauce/rice/pasta as your evil little hearts desire. Garnish with some parsley or some chopped green onion and serve.

Some garlic bread and maybe a side salad and just epic portions of beer to complete this dish.

Now, when someone makes the dish this way…

image via

You have a tasty rice dish with stuff in it. “Hey? Look, it’s got some shrimp and some other stuff too! And it’s a little spicy!”

When you serve it this way?

The shrimp is succulent and briny, the chicken is tender and seasoned perfectly. The links snap as you bite into them. But the spice…Oh shit, the spice. This will leave a slow simmer of heat tingling your tongue after each bite. The flavors are deep and far from subtle. This is spicy without being too hot and every fucking spice sings through like a goddamn Creole symphony.

This is jambalaya.

If you want to feed a big ass crowd, add in the rice while it cooks and everyone is happy but I hope you saved enough of the stewed jambalaya to treat yourself.

That’s Creole.

That’s the SHIT!

Thanks for buying the ticket and taking the ride on another edition of Sunday Gravy.

PEACE!

yeah right
yeah right
yeah right is a lifelong Vikings fan. And always wanted to be an astronaut. And a cook. So he's cooking for astronauts now.
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