Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mark's Jambalaya

Oh yeah baby !!

As I've mentioned, my husband Mark is as crazy a foodie as I am - and an unbelievable cook. His input is sprinkled throughout this blog...along with a few - but not many -  of his recipes. He's a much more unstructured cook than I am, which is a fantastic thing...until someone asks him how to make something. He knows in his head how to do it, but that doesn't really translate well into a written recipe. When he decided to make jambalaya today, though, I knew I had to shadow him and to get the whole thing down - this is hands down his most requested recipe, the one everyone has wanted for years. The recipe has never existed in written form....until now. Poor his credit, he was very patient with me :)

Jambalaya, for those who aren't familiar with it, is a Creole dish...a New Orleans classic consisting of chicken, sausages and ham, seafood, rice and vegetables, sort of similar to the Spanish Paella. The etymology of the name is unclear - a strong theory bases it on "jambon" or "jamon", the French and Spanish words for "ham". Ham is usually a component, along with other pork products like sausages...but there's so much more going on there that it would seem odd to name it after the ham (then again, it wouldn't be the same without it). There's also a reference to "jambalaia”, meaning jumble or mishmash, in an 1878  Proven├žal dictionary. Wherever the word came from, though, nowadays it just means "delicious."

The route Mark took to jambalaya nirvana is actually kind of funny. One day many, many years ago, I came home from a Diet Workshop meeting with a little cookbooklet in hand, which contained a diet version of jambalaya. I made this version quite often and it was very tasty (basically, it replaced all the pork products with turkey ham and didn't use oil or scallops), but once I quit Diet Workshop, Mark sort of took over and reverse-engineered it. This baby is all his, and it it most definitely a Culinary Orgasm.

A few notes about this recipe : first off, it makes an absolute ton - about 10 quarts (one of the reasons we own multiple 20-quart stockpots). This can definitely be halved or even quartered if you don't need quite so much. Second, the better your ingredients the better your dish (this is true in all cooking, really). We were able to score some gorgeous D’Artagnan Andouille and Chorizo at Russo's (foodie heaven...I love that store), along with fantastic produce of course. Quality ingredients give you a huge head start on the road to Culinary Orgasm.

And now, the recipe. Extra photos at the end !

Vegetable oil, for pot
3 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into roughly 2 inch chunks
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb andouille, sliced
½  lb chorizo, sliced 
1 lb ham, cubed
3 sweet onions (i.e. Vidalias), chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
8 stalks celery , cut into 1 inch lengths
12 cups chicken stock
5 ½ cups rice (converted, i.e. Uncle Ben’s)
Few grinds black pepper
½ - 1 tsp chipotle powder, to taste
Few generous shakes Tabasco, to taste
35 oz can whole plum tomatoes, with juice
½ lb bay scallops
2 lbs large shrimp (21-25 ct), shelled & deveined
Extra Tabasco for serving

Heat oil in bottom of large pot. Brown chicken and garlic in oil; remove from pan. Add a little more oil, heat, and add onion, peppers and celery. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally,  with lid on for 10 minutes or so or until vegetables are soft. Add chicken back to pan along with andouille, chorizo, and ham. Turn heat to high and add chicken stock. Bring to boil and stir in rice, pepper, chipotle powder and Tabasco. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to pot along with juice. When everything returns to a boil, turn heat down and simmer 15-20 minutes or until rice is just about done. Add scallops and simmer 3 – 5 minutes, then add shrimp and cook another 3 - 5 minutes until seafood is all cooked.

Serve in bowls, pass the Tabasco and crusty bread for dipping (sourdough is perfect)

chicken browning in pot

sausage ready to go


the whole shebang !

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