My wife was able to check an item off her bucket list recently. She successfully ran in the Kentucky Derby Mini-Marathon, a 13.1-mile trek weaving through downtown Louisville and Churchill
I figured a milestone like that was worthy of a surprise gathering of friends and family, along with a big batch of authentic creole jambalaya.
I love dishes steeped in history. The origins of jambalaya seem to originate in the Spanish region with a
dish known as paella. Once the Spanish made it to the new world, they attempted to recreate their homeland dish. The end result is the American version called jambalaya.
The first actual written
reference to this dish was in a cookbook from 1878.
There are two types – creole and cajun. One main difference is creole uses tomatoes while cajun does not. Today's recipe is creole jambalaya. It's basically a one-pot meal.
While it takes a while to
prepare, it is worth it. If you can, smoke the chicken. It adds an authentic outdoor flavor that enriches the dish.
In the video version I use smoked chicken thighs. In my latest dish I used smoked
chicken breasts. Either works fine. You can view a video of the preparation of the dish at www.BBQMyWay.com. Click on “poultry.”
A couple of suggestions before I send you down the road of authentic jambalaya. First, prepare, cut and chop all of your ingredients before you start cooking. Everything comes together quickly once you
get rolling. Second, after you chop the jalapeno peppers, DO NOT touch your face or rub your eyes until you have thoroughly washed your hands. I know this from experience.
Once last thing. Use a
big pot, or better yet, a large dutch oven. This is a lot of jambalaya.
Creole jambalaya ingredients
• 3 ½ lbs smoked chicken cut into bite sized pieces. If not smoked, cooked.
• 2 lbs smoked sausage – cut into slices
• 2 cups chopped bell peppers
• 2 cups chopped yellow onion
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 7 cloves chopped garlic
• 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, unless you want things real spicy
• 1 bunch of green onions:
Separate the white from the green. Chop both and keep separate
• 4 chopped tomatoes (14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes is fine if tomatoes are not in season)
• 5 cups chicken broth
• 1 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 to 3 teaspoons of hot sauce
• ¼ cup tomato paste
• 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tsp of crushed dry thyme
• 1 bay leave
• 3 cups of brown or white rice (not the instant)
• 1 lb of cooked shrimp
Saute' the sausage in 2 Tbs of olive oil. Once slightly browned, remove any excess oil and add the peppers, onion, celery, garlic, jalapeno peppers and whites of the green onions. Stir over medium heat until the onions are starting to become translucent. Now add all remaining ingredients and spices other than the rice.
Allow to simmer on low heat for an hour or so.
Add the rice and cover, leaving the heat on low or medium-low. Serve when rice is tender and all fluids are gone. If you choose to use brown rice, which in my opinion is the best option, add 45 minutes to the cooking time as brown rice takes longer to cook. Serve, topping each bowl with 3 or 4 pieces of pre-cooked shrimp.
Enjoy the delicious taste of history!
Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQMyWay.com.