Jambalaya

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Isn’t it funny how some foods become inexplicably tied to a certain TV show or movie? For example, when someone mentions fava beans, the first thing that pops into my head is “Silence of the Lambs.” And whenever I think about jambalaya, I always think of Newman from “Seinfeld.”

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Last week Deb from http://smittenkitchen.com posted a recipe for chocolate babka, so of course my brain went on a Seinfeld tangent. This got me thinking about the famous “Soup Nazi” episode and how Newman was so excited to get jambalaya. I realized that because of that episode (and the fact that I grew up in western New York instead of New Orleans) I thought that jambalaya was a soup.

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That changed when I actually got to travel to New Orleans a few years ago. Turns out, jambalaya is a rice dish that has sausage, ham, or seafood (or a combination of all three) in it. That is one of my favorite things about traveling–how it can change your perspective on things.

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This past weekend my husband and I took a quick trip to New York City to visit some friends. Even though it was a short stay, it was somehow relaxing and invigorating at the same time. It gave me a moment to step outside myself and reevaluate things. It reminded me that there are different ways to do things, even different ways to approach life. It makes me eager for our next vacation–time to start planning.

Jambalaya (adapted from a recipe in Ralph Brennan’s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook)

1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Salt & pepper
2 (fully cooked) andouille sausages, cut into 1/2″ slices
1/2 pound ham steak, cut into cubes
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (check out http://flowercityfoodie.com/2014/09/29/how-to-make-vegetable-stock/ to make your own)
2 cups long grain white rice
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Sauté bell pepper,  celery & onion until soft and slightly caramelized (8-10 minutes).

Add garlic powder,  cayenne,  salt & pepper and saute for 1 minute. Move the vegetables to one side of the Dutch oven.  Add the sausage and ham to the cleared space in the Dutch oven and sauté for a couple of minutes (until lightly browned).

Add tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf & chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add rice and stir. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until rice is cooked through. Top with chopped parsley, if using.

Serves: 6

Time: 1 hour

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