In March, I went to New Orleans and had my first Southern experience, though you could argue that New Orleans has its own unique culture and is not representative of the South as a whole. In any case, it was a good time. Obviously, I spent most of it eating. Jambalaya, in particular, impressed me. Jambalaya is a Creole rice dish that incorporates seasonal vegetables and andouille sausage. Not the deep-fried food you would expect in Louisiana.
So, I went home with a book called The Little New Orleans Cookbook, which holds recipes for classic New Orleans recipes, like gumbo, beignets, and, of course, jambalaya.
After playing with the recipe some and making it nearly every week for John’s lunches, I think I’ve got [my version of] jambalaya down pat. I love how the andouille sausage flavors the rice and how comforting it is to slowly spoon steaming servings of it into a bowl and eat it while reading on the couch. The changes I made are typical Andrea changes: using brown rice, upping the amount of vegetables in the dish, etc. I think you’ll like it.
Jambalaya (Adapted from The Little New Orleans Cookbook) Makes 4-6 servings
If using brown rice, start the rice cooking. The reason is that brown rice takes 40-50 minutes to cook and you don’t want to simmer the jambalaya for that long or it’ll get cooked to death. Bring a quart of chicken stock or water to a boil, turn the heat to low, and add two cups of brown rice. I usually set a timer for 50 minutes.
Dice 2 green peppers, one jalapeño pepper or other medium-hot pepper, and a large onion. Mince 2 cloves or garlic. Set vegetables aside.
Thinly slice some mushrooms. It doesn’t really matter what kind – I usually use about a cup of portobello or cremini mushrooms.
Slice some andouille sausage. I use turkey and chicken sausage that I find at Whole Foods. I usually use the whole package.
In a skillet, start sauteeing the vegetables. I usually start with the onions and sautee them over medium heat in a tablespoon of olive oil until they soften, then I add the peppers. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the mushrooms and sausage.
In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the mushrooms in butter. I usually brown them in batches so they don’t crowd. Heat the pot over medium-high heat and add butter and mushrooms. Cook for about a minute, stirring a couple of times. Once brown, add to the pepper and onion mixture that is still simmering.
Once all the mushrooms are browned, use the same large pot to brown the andouille sausage. Again, heat the pot and met some butter. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned and fragrant. Add the vegetables to the pot and add 1 tablespoon each of worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. Add about a teaspoon of thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and a grind of black pepper. Stir together and add the rice, which should be about 30 minutes into its cooking. Cook the whole concoction covered, over very low heat, until the rice is done (it should be gently boiling). Taste it and add salt as needed. It should still be a little liquidy, which will be absorbed as it cools. Note: resist the tempation to stir the rice too much, which will make it gummy.