Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Jambalaya, y'all

Mrs. Darwin thinking about food here -- I do that a lot lately...

Been reading a Creole cookbook my mother picked up on a trip to New Orleans in 1991 (I know that because on the inside cover it says "New Orleans trip 1991). This cookbook, which I have used and valued for many years, is La Bouche Creole by the late Leon Soniat, who wrote a food column in the Times-Picayune. This is true Creole cooking at its finest, and of course all my recipes are seasoned by memories of my mother's own twists. (She's a native of Baton Rouge.)

Here's what we're eating tonight: Sausage Jambalaya. I confess that I never follow a recipe exactly, often because I don't have exactly the ingredients called for (tricky when trying to make something out of Cook's Illustrated). However, the basic premise of jambalaya is hard to mess up -- just good stuff and rice. Here's the recipe (and reflections) as M'sieu Soniat gives it.

One thing the Cajuns should be praised for is the way they have developed the art of sausage making. Once you have tasted andouille, chaurice, boudin rouge, boudin blanc, or saucisse boucaner, you've got to go back for more, and I've named but a few. Both the Creoles and the Cajuns used these delicious sausages in soups, vegetable dishes, in gumbos, and of course served by themselves.

One of the favorite uses is in a jambalaya. Here is an easy, quick way to whip up a tasty Sausage Jambalaya.

You will need about a pound or a pound and a quarter of chaurice, smoked sausage, or andouille. Slice the sausage into small pieces, then brown in a deep frying pan or Dutch oven. Take the meat out and put into the same fat, 2 large onions, chopped, 1/2 cup finely chopped celery, and one chopped bell pepper. Saute until tender. Mix in thoroughly 1 large can tomatoes. Add 2 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and 4 toes chopped garlic. Mix well and add 1 10 1/2-oz. can of been consomme and 2 cans of water. Let simmer for about 40 minutes.

Put the sausage back, and add salt, black pepper, and Tabasco to taste. Add 2 cups raw rice. Put a cover on and allow the mixture to cook slowly, stirring occasionally. As the rice begins to absorb the mixture, the jambalaya might get too dry. If so, add a little more water. Cook until the rice is tender.

Just before serving, stir into the jambalaya 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots and 2 tablespoons minced parsley. Let set for 10 minutes, then serve with a big chunk of French bread and butter. Serves four to six.

1 or 1 1/4 lbs. chaurice, smoked sausage, or andouille
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 large can tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. chili powder
4 toes garlic, chopped
1 can beef consomme
2 cans water (instead of consomme and water, I use 4 cups chicken broth)
salt, black pepper, and Tabasco to taste
2 cups raw rice
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (green onions -- I use the whole green onion, not just the white bit)
2 tbsp. minced parsley

That's how many of the recipes in the book work -- a story, seguing into cooking instructions, and at the end the ingredients list. Charming, n'est pas? Hope y'all like this jambalaya -- we've just finished ours, and it was tres bien.


Julie D. said...

Shallots aren't really green onions though ... they are small bulbs more like a cross between onion and garlic.

This looks great. I'm definitely going to have to try it!

mrsdarwin said...

You're right, but Soniat says at the beginning of the book that "shallots" is often used in New Orleans to refer to scallions or green onions. (Also, my mother used green onions, so that's what I do!) Come to that, I actually have some real shallots in the house, and I still used green onions... Force of habit, I suppose.

Julie D. said...

Aha! All is revealed ... and green onions would be good there (my "mind's tongue" gets it).

Anonymous said...

I'd love to try making this when the weather cools down a little. But where does one find chaurice or andouille? What qualifies as smoked sausage? Ignorant but inquiring minds want to know.

mrsdarwin said...

Smoked sausage you can buy in big links at the grocery store, in the packaged meats section. (Though I don't know if it's "done", I've also used Polish kielbasa as well.) Chaurice I've never had -- you might have to ask at the meat counter. Andouille (pronounced, I believe, "an-douey") is a spicy sausage, quite tasty. I've found it in smaller links, also pre-packaged. Trader Joe's might have it, or out here, Central Market. Either a small local ethnic market or one of the big glitzy supermarket chains would probably carry the more unusual sausages.

In Cincinnati it's all German sausages, and the big ones there are bratwurst and mettwurst. Brats are a pale sausage, and I've never had them, but the metts are meaty and filling and great with smoky mustard.

Julie D. said...

Tres bien, cherie!