When I want to cook a Cajun specialty such as jambalaya, I pull out my file of favorite recipes. For many years, I had never tasted jambalaya, but when I did it quickly found its way into the “favorites” file.
Paul Prudhomme, who has long been known as the country’s foremost authority on Cajun cooking, has taken this down-to-earth food from the bayou to a place of national prominence.
After attending some classes on Cajun cooking in New Orleans, I learned that in properly-seasoned Cajun food, no one spice is dominant. It should be a perfect blend of seasonings. I like to describe it as “a delight in every bite.”
A must of Cajun cooking is the Cajun “trinity,” a mixture of chopped onions, celery and bell pepper.
Jambalaya means “a gift of rice.” In addition to the Andouille sausage and chicken jambalaya that we had in one of the classes I attended, other choices include seafood (shrimp, oysters, crab or coarse fish) and vegetable. Some of the sausages that can be substituted for the Cajun Andouille are Polish, Kielbasa or Italian, but do not use a fennel-based sausage.
If you are one of those who thinks that a meal is never complete without a little something sweet, pralines would be a good choice.
The following recipes for jambalaya and pralines are printed with the permission of The New Orleans School of Cooking.
1/4 cup oil
1 chicken, cut up or boned
1 1/2 pounds sausage (similar to Kielbasa)
4 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
4 cups long grain rice (do not use short grain)
5 cups chicken stock
2 heaping teaspoons salt
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 cups chopped green onions
Season and brown chicken in oil (lard, bacon drippings, etc.) over medium-high heat. Add sliced sausage and sauté with chicken. Remove both from pot.
Sauté onions, celery, green pepper and garlic to tenderness you desire. Return chicken and sausage to pot.
Add liquid and salt, pepper and other desired seasonings and bring to boil. If using Kitchen Bouquet for brown jambalaya, add 1 to 2 tablespoons. For red jambalaya, add approximately ¼ cup paprika, and you may want to use ½ stock and ½ tomato juice for your liquid.
Add rice and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. After 10 minutes of cooking, remove cover and quickly turn rice from top to bottom completely. Cover and steam for an additional 20 minutes off the heat. (By this time, rice should have absorbed all the liquid and be tender). Add green onions. Serves 12.
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup milk
3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups pecans, roasted (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all ingredients and bring to soft-ball stage (238 to 240 F), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir until mixture thickens, becomes creamy and cloudy, and pecans stay suspended in mixture. Spoon out on buttered wax paper, aluminum foil or parchment paper. When using wax paper, be sure to buffer with newspaper underneath, as hot wax will transfer onto whatever is beneath.
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