Excerpted from Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen by Sara Foster Copyright © 2011 by Sara Foster. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Yet another in the seemingly endless parade of hearty one-pot dishes from the Creole and Cajun traditions, jambalaya is a close cousin of Spanish paella (which comes as no surprise, given Louisiana's earlier ownership by Spain). I love jambalaya, whether it's made in the "red" Creole style, with tomatoes, or in the "brown" Cajun style, without, because even though it requires a little slicing and dicing, it's actually a fairly fast and weeknight-friendly one-dish dinner-and it really sticks to your ribs. I often make mine with shrimp (as in this recipe), but jambalaya is sort of like gumbo in that it is made with everything from chicken, sausage, pork, and oysters to alligator, boar, venison, and turtle-basically, anything that swims, crawls, grazes, or flies in the vicinity of Southerners.
SERVES 6 TO 8
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1/4 pound tasso or other smoked spicy ham, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
- 2 cups long-grain white rice (preferably Carolina Gold)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tomatoes, cored and chopped
- 3 1/2 cups Fast and Fresh Broth (page 42) or low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined (reserve shells if making Fast and Fresh Broth)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 scallions, trimmed and minced
Cook the bacon in a large skillet or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid uncovered over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and place on a paper towel-lined dish to drain.
Photo by Peter Frank Edwards Photography
Add the olive oil to the same skillet and heat over medium heat until sizzling hot (see Knowhow, page 100). Add the onion and tasso and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and golden and the ham is light brown around the edges. Add the celery and bell pepper and cook and stir for about 5 minutes more, until tender. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer. Add the rice, salt, cumin, black pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice is thoroughly coated with the oil. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute more.
Pour in the broth, add the bay leaves and thyme, and stir only once. Bring the mixture to a low boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered tightly, for about 20 minutes, until most of the broth has evaporated and the rice is plump and tender.
Scatter the shrimp over the top of the rice, increase the heat to low, and cover to steam the shrimp, 7 to 10 minutes, until bright pink and cooked through and until the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed. Divide the jambalaya evenly among individual serving plates, sprinkle with parsley and scallions, and serve hot.