Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jambalaya and a Crawfish Pie and File Gumbo

William's all-time (all 7-years of his life) favorite song set me in the mood for jambalaya and you can't beat Don's Seafood for this classic Cajun dish. Luckily, in 1958 they released a cookbook Don's Secrets which includes some of my favorite Cajun dishes before they became Americanized.

photo credit:  Emile Stieffel

Here's their version with my own modifications and suggestions noted in italics:

2 lbs raw, ground chicken giblets
1/2 lb. raw, ground beef
*I like to use leftover, cooked meat - whatever I have on hand (chicken breast, pork chops, grilled steak. Simply chopped or shred and toss in the jambalaya.
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
*Don's does not use bell peppers, but what recipe in South Louisiana doesn't call for the trinity of onions, celery and bell peppers? Some stores sell precut seasoning mix and you can save time by using this instead.
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
*Sometimes I add more to taste as the dish cooks.
1 cup water
3 cups cooked rice
½ cup chopped green onion tops and flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1/3 teaspoon Cayenne (red pepper)
½ cup cooking oil (canola)

Heat cooking oil in a cast iron Dutch oven. Add onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and tomato paste. Cook over medium heat in uncovered pot, until onions are wilted. Add meat. Season with salt, black pepper and Cayenne (adjust accordingly if using leftover meat that has already been seasoned). Cook in uncovered pot over medium heat, until meat begins to brown or until meat is heated through if using leftovers. Stir well. Add 1 cup of water and cook over medium heat for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Add green onion tops and parsley and simmer over low heat in uncovered pot for about 15 minutes. Add cooked rice and serve. Serves 10.

Yum! And in good Cajun tradition, if company arrives just before dinner, invite them to stay and simply throw in more rice. Who cares if there's more rice than meat when you're eating with friends?

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