In preparation for Fat Tuesday I decided to take ride on the Cajun side. Well not really a ride, unless you count the trip to the grocery store. But you know what I mean. Since I don’t have the patience for gumbo, or more specifically the roux, I decided to make jambalaya (pronounced “jum” not “jam” – don’t ask me why). What I do know is, if you plan to make this dish you must respect the trinity. No need to do a Hail Mary, just make sure you have celery, a bell pepper, and an onion. If there was a second trinity I think it would be Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaves – no Southern kitchen is complete without them.
Oh, and did I mention this recipe is adapted from the ragin’ Cajun himself? BAM! Emeril kindly provided the recipe for his famous “Essence.” I just can’t think of New Orleans food without Emeril coming to mind; similar to how I associate a train wreck with Charlie Sheen (congratulations Mel Gibson, you’re off the hook temporarily). Back to Emeril …
Emeril’s Essence Creole Seasoning, modified only slightly
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
This will make more than you need, but I think it’s worth it just to have around. And by the way, Emeril is not making sound effects just for fun. This stuff is spicy! Just mix together all of the ingredients and you are ready to have a jambalaya jamboree … I’m sorry I’m getting carried away. Let’s just get to the recipe, shall we?
Jambalaya, serves 4-6
- 1/2 lb shrimp
- 1 whole chicken breast, diced
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 1/2 lb spicy Italian ground sausage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large tomato , chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
In a medium bowl combine the shrimp, chicken and Creole seasoning. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the sausage for 3-5 minutes, breaking the sausage up as it cooks. Add the onion, pepper, and celery and cook until the vegetables are tender. Next add the garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in the rice and toast for a minute. Slowly add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let sit for 50-60 minutes. During the last 10 minutes add the shrimp and chicken and cook until they meat is done. Depending on how spicy you like it, season to taste with additional Creole seasoning and salt. And in my opinion, no Louisiana meal is complete without a nice cold Abita beer.
Just so there is no confusion, let me clarify that this is not an all Italian food blog. So even though this recipe includes noodles (I can’t get away from them) don’t be surprised when you see soy sauce in the ingredient list. Anyway, has anyone noticed how Thai is the new Japanese? For several years sushi restaurants were popping up everywhere. Now I am constantly reading menus with crazy names like “Pad Kee Mow” and “Tom Yum Gai”. How am I supposed to know what that means? However, most people are probably familiar with Pad Thai.
The other thing I have noticed is popular lately is pre-cut vegetables for stir fry’s in the grocery store. This is great news for anyone who doesn’t know what to do with a big bag of left over bean sprouts. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen that go bad in my refrigerator. That being said, the combination of these two new foodie fads makes Pad Thai a great meal option. You can customize the recipe to include any of your favorite mixings. Even though traditional (and by traditional I mean typical of the place we order lunch from at work) Pad Thai doesn’t include as many veggies, I like to think it makes me more healthy. Plus it just tastes good.
- 1/2 cup julienned carrots
- 2 scallions, sliced at an angle
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced snow peas
- A handful of bean sprouts
- 2 eggs, scambled
- 16 shrimp (or less if large)
- 1/2 lbs rice noodles
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1/8 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Strain and set aside. Meanwhile in a small bowl combine the lime juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, hot pepper sauce, and garlic. Mix well and then slowly add the vegetable oil. Next, scramble the eggs in a medium pan and set aside to cool. In the same pan add a couple of tablespoons of the peanut sauce and the shrimp. Cook until pink. Then add 3/4 of the carrots, scallions, snow peas, and bean sprouts with half of the remaining sauce. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Finally add the noodles and the rest of the sauce. Mix well and let the noodles reheat (about 3-5 minutes). Serve the noodles on a big plate (there’s a lot there!). Roughly chop up the scrambled eggs and add to the dish. Garnish with the remaining vegetables, cilantro, chopped peanuts, and a wedge of lime.
Hopefully you won’t have many left over ingredients if you were able to find pre-cut veggies. But on any given day I always have these 3 things in my refrigerator/freezer: cilantro, scallions, and shrimp. Luckily there is a delicious recipe for quesadillas that uses all three! Just substitute the scallions for the red onion and the cilantro for the parsley. I also added black beans to mine. And if you still have left overs, I know someone who is always looking for some …