Comfort food from Louisiana
Jambalaya is a dish that was born out of necessity. Its original function was to create a filling and relatively easy meal out of whatever meat or seafood was on hand. This hearty, one-pot meal originated in the deep south in New Orleans and environs. There are slight variations between Cajun and Creole jambalaya. But both cuisines claim it as their own.
A Creole jambalaya
This version, created by author Jill Silverman Hough for her book 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love is closer to the Creole than the Cajun version. But with Spanish influence. (It’s believed that tomato was first added to jambalaya by Spanish cooks. The same goes for paprika.) Modern day recipes for this one-pot meal are more refined than the original but their purpose remains the same. The dish is a party pleaser. And it’s an inexpensive way to feed a crowd without having to dirty every pan in the house!
Jill comments, “Jambalaya might sound exotic—and it does have deliciously haunting flavors—but it’s basically a simple, one-pot meal that, after a little chopping and cutting, comes together quickly and cleans up even more so.”
As for Jill’s selection of proteins, “Including a spicy sausage like andouille is pretty traditional. Additional proteins might include chicken, pork, ham, and/or seafood. (This version, with its heavy use of seafood, is a little lighter than most traditional jambalayas.) Of course, I’m a fan of the use of both shrimp and scallops because these two seafoods are both legendary aphrodisiacs. And don’t forget, scallops make my list of the 10 Best Foods for Women’s Health.
And because Jill is also a wine authority, (not to mention the fact that this recipe comes from a book of food and wine pairings), she recommends serving it with Riesling. (Which, of course, is another legendary aphrodisiac!)
Want more of Jill’s comfort food recipes? Check out her Chanterelle and Gruyere Bread Pudding.
- 2 tbsp 1/4 stick unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 9 to 12 oz cooked andouille sausage halved lengthwise and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 stalks celery cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 red bell pepper cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 green bell pepper cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 4 cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press or minced
- 2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- One 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 4 1/2 tsp smoked paprika see below
- 4 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups white long-grain rice
- 12 oz large raw, peeled shrimp, preferably tail on
- 12 oz bay scallops or sea scallops halved or quartered if very large (see below)
- In a medium stockpot over medium heat, warm the butter and olive oil.
- Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Add the celery and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 1 minute.
- Stir in the broth, tomatoes (with their juices), thyme, paprika, salt, and cayenne, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in the rice, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
- Cover and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the shrimp and scallops, cover, and cook until the seafood is cooked through and the liquid is almost all absorbed, about 4 minutes.
- Serve hot.
Notes: Smoked paprika is available in the spice section of most major supermarkets and at specialty food stores. Besides using it in this recipe, you can use it in rubs and stirred into salsa, soups, stews, and sauces. Sea scallops are 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, as opposed to bay scallops, which are about 1/2 inch. Look for ones that have a slightly beige or pinkish hue. If they’re stark white, it’s a sign that they’ve been soaked in water—which increases their weight (meaning you’re paying for water) and makes them less likely to get nicely browned.
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