North Florida Jambalaya
I know I’m a little bit presumptuous to call anything made in Florida, “Jambalaya“.Â There are geographies and cultures that claim the word for their own culinary traditions.Â Â According to that unquestioned source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, jambalaya originated in the French Quarter of New Orleans where it evolved from Spanish paella.
For me, jambalaya is usually a spur of the moment creation and each version is different.Â In general it’s a mixture of veggies and meat and/or seafood cooked in a fat.Â When the veggies are cooked down and the meat is almost done, some rice is added and then a broth.Â The mixture is cooked down.Â Some like it soupy and some like it dry.
Here’s how i did it tonight:
- In a cast iron chicken fryer, melt 1/8 cup of unsalted butter and add about the same amount of oil.Â I used a very light olive oil (called pomaceÂ oil).Â Bring the oil to frying temperature.
- Add a half cup or so of chopped peppers, a couple of stalks of chopped celery, a chopped medium to large onion and a couple of cloves of smushed and chopped garlic.Â You can use whatever kind of pepper strikes your fancy, but green bell peppers are traditional.Â Start it frying.
- Add 3 boned and chopped chicken thighs and 1/2 to a full cup of pork sausage.Â You can use smoked or fresh sausage. Â I like using local pork and tonight’s fresh came from Thompson’s Farm in Dixie Georgia.Â Â Â Tonight I used fresh ground sausage.
- I put cilantro into almost everything and tonight’s jambalaya was no exception.Â I cleaned and broke down a large bunch.Â The chopped stems were added and cooked with the meat.Â I reserved the chopped leaves.
- After the meats are mostly cooked, add a cup or so of raw rice.Â You can use what you like but short grain works best for this kind of dish.Â Tonight I used “sushi”Â rice from the New Leaf Market.
- Let the rice cook in the pan until it changes color.Â You want it fry just a bit and but not so much that it darkens.
- Add about two cups of liquid.Â I used a combination of commercial chicken stock and white jug wine.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and about 1/2 of the reserved cilantro leaves.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- When almost all the liquid is absorbed and/or evaporated, add the remaining cilantro and a cup or so of raw cleaned shrimp; tail-on if possible.
- When the shrimp is cooked, remove the pan from the fire and let the dish rest for a few minutes.
- Serve with a good beer, green salad and a selection of hot sauces.