Monday, December 6, 2010

How Jenny Got Her Groove Back

Well, happy holidays ladies and gents! So many things a-brewin'... Not that this is out of the norm. The past few months have been working, working, and more working. School, school, and more school! And finally, it all seems to be winding down.

For a long time I wasn't doing a lot of cooking, which is a little strange (believe me, I know). Then, by no uncertain circumstances, a southern gent enters my life and all of a sudden the pots and casserole dishes are full, the kitchen-aid mixer is spinning, and there is sauce all over the place.
With the upsurge in tastiness and recipes, it was without question that posting would have to resume. And oh, how I've missed you. So, without further ado, commence romanticizing!

Bernard is from New Orleans. That's how this all started. While he was down spending time with his family over Thanksgiving he visited the Cafe du Monde, a market whose reputation precedes it. Known nationally (and probably internationally) for its 'coffee and chicory', and beignets (read: fried dough!), I was the happy recipient of a gift basket containing the mix they use to make aforementioned beignets. I don't know if Bernie was aware of my affinity forputting things together, but there was no way I was just going to hang out with my mom and fry dough. Oh no, this was a flour-filled catalyst.

The solution? I decided to make jambalaya for dinner for my family + Bernie, and we could fry up the beignets for dessert. I consulted the few southern friends that I have, as well as innumerable websites, to put together what I thought would be an authentic jambalaya. As it turns out, it came out great! Everyone enjoyed it, and even the southerner was impressed with my first-time attempt.

We stuffed ourselves with jambalaya and made a huge mess making (and eating) beignets. Everyone seemed to have a pretty good time, which naturally made me happy! I love the way food brings people together. I was going to throw on some zydeco music, but Casey shot that idea down pretty quickly. Baby steps for us Yankees!

I'd recommend jambalaya as a main dish to anyone. It is warm, filling, and packs a punch of flavor. It's just one of those "man, that was satisfying" dishes. Plus, you can throw almost anything in it. I made mine with andouille, chicken, and shrimp. This one is definitely going on the frequent flier list!

(I apologize in advance for the lack of photographs! They will come eventually.)

Jenny's "Collective" Jambalaya

2 tblsp Olive Oil
2 tblsp Unsalted Butter
1 Whole Chicken, cut in to pieces
1 lb. Andouille Sausage, sliced (I used Chicken Andouille)
1 lb Jumbo Shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 Yellow Onion, minced
1 Green Pepper, minced
4-5 stalks Celery, minced
5 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tblsp Cajun Seasoning (See Below)
3 Bay Leaves
1 cup White or Brown Rice
4 cups Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped

There are a lot of reputable pre-mixed Cajun seasonings out there. Papaw Tom's and Zatarains have come most highly recommended. I'd also encourage you to check out the happiest place on earth: Penzy's Spices.

If you want to make your own, the gist is this:
Equal parts of: Black pepper, cayenne pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. I went a little nuts and used smoked paprika and extra cayenne pepper.

1) In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and a little of the seasoning and place in the heated oil skin side down. Brown the chicken until the fat renders and the skins are crispy. Put a lid on the dutch oven so it cooks almost completely.

2) Remove the chicken from the dutch oven. Remove the skins and cut the meat off the bones in to small pieces. Set aside.

3) Add the andouille to the dutch oven in a single layer so they get browned and a little crispy on each side. Remove and set aside with the chicken.

4) Add the butter to the dutch oven. Saute the garlic, celery, pepper, and onion until the onion is soft and translucent.

(Aside: The celery-bell pepper-onion combination is referred to as the 'holy trinity' and is the cornerstone of a lot of Cajun recipes).

5) Return the chicken and andouille to the dutch oven. Add the Cajun Seasoning, a little salt, cracked black pepper, bay leaves, and rice. Saute for a few more minutes to integrate all of the flavors.

6) Add enough chicken stock to cover the "dry" ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Put a lid on it, and check to stir intermittently, adding more chicken stock if it becomes too thick.

7) When the rice is al dente (about 30 minutes), add the shrimp. Cook for another 10-15 minutes until the shrimp and the rice are tender.

Serve in generous bowls with fresh parsley! If I had more time, I would have made some corn bread to go with it. I don't know if that's authentic, but it sounds like it would have been a tasty compliment! This is the definition of soul food... full bellies and not a frown in the house!

In the words of the amazing Roisin (one of my trusted sources),
Good luck and laissez les bons temps rouler!

P.S. If you don't have a sweetheart from New Orleans to bring you beignet mix back from family visits, you can order it from the Cafe du Monde website!

Check out my awesome new mug!

1 comment:

Mahmudul Hasan said...

Thanks for the share. Great stuff, just nice!
Romantic dinner recipes