Louisiana. I have only been there once in my life, on a church missions trip in high school. This was before Hurricane Katrina. Before the massive destruction and devastation.
In January 2000 I was a heinously awkward 6th grader. I had braces. I played the saxophone. And I only wore clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch (it was during this period in my life that I refused to wear jeans - I would only wear khakis, yes, I was strange). It was during this time that MTV aired The Real World New Orleans, which followed seven strangers as they lived in a mansion in the Garden District of New Orleans. They partied. They hooked up. There was drama. There were tears. Looking back, I am not sure if my parents knew exactly what I was watching, nor am I convinced that they would been okay with me watching it. That being said, I didn't miss a single episode.
Ever since I went to New Orleans in high school, I have wanted to go back. It is something I want to experience as an adult. Let's just say that there was no Bourbon Street experience with my church youth group...
More recently, a certain television show featured the city once again. American Horror Story. Coven. I hate all things remotely scary, but for some reason I cannot stop watching this show. We know that the second season was a terrible flop and did not live up to the standards put forth by the premiere season. However, Ryan Murphy did it again with the third season. Familiar faces were joined by newcomers, the likes of Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, and Gabourey Sidibe. If you haven't yet seen it, be sure to check it out!
Naturally, as Mardi Gras rapidly approached a few weeks ago, I wanted to do something to pay homage to the city. I called up a friend whose family is from Louisiana and asked if I could use their family recipe. Luckily, they obliged and I am passing it along to you all today. If you have heard anything about making jambalaya, I'm sure it was that it is very time-consuming to make. This statement couldn't be more true. It took me about 3 hours from start to finish. Be warned. That being said, grab your friends, make some hurricanes and enjoy the company while you wait for the meal to finish cooking!
I am very excited about some upcoming blog posts, but until next time...happy eating!
Louisiana Jambalaya Serves 8-10
Ingredients: 2 ½ pound whole chicken 1 teaspoon cajun or creole seasoning 2 tablespoons oil 1 pound ground turkey sausage 1 large onion, chopped ½ bell pepper, chopped 1 pound link sausage, cut into slices (pork, beef, turkey...your choice) 1 can cream of celery soup (not diluted) 1 can Campbell’s French Onion soup (not diluted) 2 cans of diced tomatoes (not drained) 3 bay leaves 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon paprika 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning 1 teaspoon garlic powder 2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
- Boil whole chicken in 6 cups water plus 1 teaspoon cajun or creole seasoning. Remove chicken when cooked (about 45 minutes), cool and debone. Save the broth/water.
- Sauté oil, ground turkey sausage, onion, bell pepper and link sausage slices in a large Dutch oven or heavy cookware.
- Add chicken and broth from first step, cream of celery soup, french onion soup, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, paprika, cajun seasoning and garlic powder to the above pot. Simmer for 1 hour on low heat to mix the flavors, it will be very liquid. Stir several times to be sure it does not stick to the bottom.
- Stir in 2 cups uncooked long grain white rice, cook 25 minutes at medium-low heat. Cool and eat.
- Note: The rice will absorb most of the liquid. Let it sit for 15 minutes more to absorb more liquid and to thicken a bit before serving. If it is too soupy, you can spoon out some of the liquid. If it is too dry, add ½ cup water at a time. Because different brands of sausage have differing amounts of moisture, the water content of the jambalaya may have to be adjusted at the end. Remove bay leaves before serving. Leftovers are even tastier the next day.