Monday, May 30, 2016

Cajun Jambalaya

     There are as many recipe variations of Jambalaya as there are cooks in Louisiana.  The two most famous are Red Jambalaya (Creole Jambalaya) and Cajun Jambalaya.  Red Jambalaya has tomatoes in the recipe and the base flavor is similar to a good Creole Tomato Sauce.  Cajun Jambalaya has no tomato in the list of ingredients.  Cajun Jambalaya requires making a dark brown roux, which gives this Jambalaya its dark color.  
     It is best to wear protective kitchen clothing when making a dark roux.  The roux is so high of a temperature, that just a little spatter can cause serious burns.  All of the meats and vegetables must be prepared ahead of time, because the vegetables are added to the hot brown roux to stop the cooking process.  The hot roux will instantly cook the vegetables and this is wear the great Cajun Jambalaya flavor begins!
     Cajun Jambalaya: 
     This recipe yields 2 hearty servings!
     Be sure to prepare all the meats and Trinity Vegetables ahead of time, because you must work fast after the roux is cooked! 
     Never cover a pot of Jambalaya with a lid!  Cook the Jambalaya uncovered, so the rice is lightly caramelized and crusty, just like making Spanish Paella. 
     Step 1:  *This vegetable mixture is known as the trinity. 
     Place 1 cup of chopped onion in a bowl.
     Add 1/2 cup of mixed chopped green bell pepper and red bell pepper.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped celery. 
     Step 2:  Heat a large sauce pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring with a whisk.  (The roux should look shiny, not caky.)
     Constantly stir with a whisk till the roux turns a deep brown color.
     Step 3:  *Adding the vegetables to the hot roux will create steam, so wear protective clothing!
     Immediately add the Trinity Vegetable mixture and wait for the steam to escape.
     Add 2 chopped green onions.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped garlic.
     Briefly stir till the vegetables start to cook.  
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to medium heat.
     Add 6 ounces of large diced raw chicken breast.
     Add 10 peeled large shrimp that have the tails removed.  (Devein the shrimp if the mud veins are dark!)
     Add 4 ounces of bite size pieces of Smoked Cured Ham.  (Use Tasso Ham if it is available.)
     Add 5 ounces of thick sliced Andouille Sausage. 
     Stir till the meats start to cook.  (The roux will stick to the vegetables and meat.  The jambalaya at this stage is almost like a thick solid mass.)
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 cup of shrimp broth.
     Add enough light pork broth to barely cover the ingredients.
     Stir the Jambalaya as it heats and thickens.  
     *The Jambalaya will turn into a medium thin sauce at this point.  Stir till the Jambalaya sauce becomes smooth.
     Step 6:  Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 1 bay leaf.     
     Add 2 pinches of basil.
     Add 2 pinches of tarragon.
     Add 2 pinches of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Stir the Jambalaya.
     Step 7:  Add 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of long grain white rice.
     *The amount of rice is a judgment call!  The proportion of rice should be 1 part rice to 2 1/4 parts sauce.) 
     Step 8:  Bring the Jambalaya to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.  
     Stir the jambalaya once every couple of minutes for the first 10 minutes.
     Step 9:  For the last 10-15 minutes, reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Simmer the jambalaya and do not stir it at all!
     *Allow the rice to brown and form a crisp crust on the bottom of the pan.  This is the key to making a great Jambalaya!
     Step 10:  After the rice is cooked tender, reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Scrape the browned crusty rice up from the bottom of the pan while stirring.
     Step 11:  Spoon a generous portion of the Cajun Jambalaya onto a plate.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     This tastes like is Louisiana Cajun Jambalaya heaven!  

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