Sunday, December 8, 2013

Jambalaya



I love jambalaya. It's warm, just a little spicy, and so... so very good. Over the years, I have tried several different recipes, several different shortcuts, and several different ways of cooking it. There has been but one conclusion--

This is the very best recipe.

I do make some modifications, as you can tell by all the notes. Other things to mention are:

- six cloves of garlic. No less. Smash with the flat side of your knife and slice until they are very finely minced.
- more bell pepper. If I had to guess, it would be about 1/2 cup. I use the frozen, bagged variety- not because I am lazy. Rather, I am cheap. Cheap-cheap-cheap.
- Thomson's sausage is no longer in business, or at least they don't sell it anywhere that I shop. Both the Publix brand hot sausage and the Jimmy Dean 1/2 hot and 1/2 regular make for good flavor.
- 1 1/2 cups chicken is an obscure number to me. Is that three chicken breasts? Two thighs and a leg? I have no idea. A whole rotisserie chicken is what I use and it has plenty of yummy chicken throughout. By using a rotisserie, it makes it easier to shred and shredding is the key.
- Hunt's diced tomatoes saves a step.
- Instead of water, use chicken stock.
- Instead of "stirring frequently for 30 minutes" - I put the lid on it and drop the heat, stirring occasionally for about an hour. You want the shrimp to just be cooked, if they are a little undercooked- that's fine. It's still going to cook more!
- Rice: don't scoff at this, but use boil-in-bag rice. Recently, they came out with Jasmine boil-in-bag rice and that really is the best. Using the parboiled type helps the rice maintain its consistency longer.
- Rice: Drop two bay leaves in the water while you are cooking.
- After cooking and combining, make sure the jambalaya is watery by adding more chicken stock. It's going to cook for at least another hour between 250-300 (not thirty minutes at 350). Keep it covered. About fifteen minutes before you are ready to eat, lift the foil and give it a stir. The liquid should be gone. If not, bump the heat and cook uncovered. Doing it this way gives you more flexibility as to when you can serve it.
- I always forget to butter the casserole... and have had no ill effects from it.
- If you have it, you can also add a second can of diced tomatoes in lieu of the chicken stock along the way- your call.
- you absolutely can add too much shrimp. That being said, as long as you keep it below 3 1/4 pounds, you will have a crowd pleaser.


As Dorothy says, "Do right and speak of your mistakes."

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