One of America’s Favorites – Jambalaya

June 15, 2020 at 6:49 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Jambalaya with chicken, andouille sausage, rice, shrimp, celery and spices

Jambalaya (/ˌdʒæmbəˈlaɪ.ə/ JAM-bə-LY-ə, /ˌdʒʌm-/ JUM-) is a popular dish of West African, French (especially Provençal cuisine), Spanish and Native American influence, consisting mainly of meat and vegetables mixed with rice. Traditionally, the meat always includes sausage of some sort, often a smoked meat such as andouille, along with pork or chicken and seafood (less common), such as crawfish or shrimp. The vegetables are usually a sofrito-like mixture known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun cooking, consisting of onion, celery, and green bell pepper, though other vegetables such as okra, carrots, tomatoes, chilis and garlic are also used. After browning and sauteeing the meat and vegetables, rice, seasonings and broth are added and the entire dish is cooked together until the rice is done.

Jambalaya is similar to (but distinct from) other rice-and-meat dishes known in Louisiana cuisine. Gumbo uses similar sausages, meats, seafood, vegetables and seasonings. However, gumbo includes filé powder and okra, which are not common in jambalaya. Gumbo is also usually served over white rice, which is prepared separate from the rest of the dish, unlike jambalaya, where the rice is prepared with the other ingredients. Étouffée is a stew which always includes shellfish such as shrimp or crayfish, but does not have the sausage common to jambalaya and gumbo. Also, like gumbo, étouffée is usually served over separately prepared rice.

Jambalaya may have its origins in several rice-based dishes well attested in the Mediterranean cuisines of France or Spain especially, the Spanish dish paella (native to Valencia), and a French pilau dish in which the word jambalaia is native to Provence) Other seasoned rice-based dishes from other cuisines include pilaf, risotto and Hoppin’ John.

Chicken jambalaya at a restaurant

The first is Creole jambalaya (also called “red jambalaya”). First, meat is added to the trinity of celery, peppers, and onions; the meat is usually chicken and sausage such as andouille or smoked sausage. Next vegetables and tomatoes are added to cook, followed by seafood. Rice and stock are added in equal proportions at the very end. The mixture is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the recipe, with infrequent stirring. Towards the end of the cooking process, stirring usually ceases. Some versions call for the jambalaya to be baked after the cooking of all the ingredients.

The second style, more characteristic of southwestern and south-central Louisiana, is Cajun jambalaya, which contains no tomatoes (the idea being the farther away from New Orleans one gets, the less common tomatoes are in dishes). The meat is browned in a cast-iron pot. The bits of meat that stick to the bottom of the pot (sucs) are what give a Cajun jambalaya its brown color. A little vegetable oil is added if there is not enough fat in the pot. The trinity (of 50% onions, 25% celery, and 25% green or red bell pepper, although proportions can be altered to suit one’s taste) is added and sautéed until soft. Stock and seasonings are added in the next step, and then the meats are returned to the pot. This mixture is then simmered, covered, for at least one hour. Lastly, the mixture is brought to a boil and rice is added to the pot. It is then covered and left to simmer over very low heat for at least 1/2 hour without stirring. The dish is finished when the rice has cooked.

In a less common method, meat and vegetables are cooked separately from the rice. At the same time, rice is cooked in a savory stock. It is added to the meat and vegetables before serving. This is called “white jambalaya”. This dish is rare in Louisiana as it is seen as a “quick” attempt to make jambalaya, popularized outside the state to shorten cooking time.

Many people in the south, and typically in Louisiana, enjoy a simpler jambalaya style. This style is cooked the same as the Cajun style, but there are no vegetables. Many restaurants serve this style as opposed to the others, because it is more child-friendly, has a more consistent texture, and is easier to make.

Jambalaya is considered by most Louisianans to be a filling but simple-to-prepare rice dish; gumbos, étouffées, and creoles are considered more difficult to perfect. Most often a long grain white rice is used in making jambalaya.

Ingredients for jambalaya in a pot beginning to cook

Jambalaya is differentiated from gumbo and étouffée by the way in which the rice is included. In these dishes, the rice is cooked separately and is served as a bed on which the main dish is served. In the usual method of preparing jambalaya, a rich stock is created from vegetables, meat, and seafood; raw rice is then added to the broth and the flavor is absorbed by the grains as the rice cooks.

The origin states jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron. As time went on, French influence became strong in New Orleans, and spices from the Caribbean changed this New World paella into a unique dish. In modern Louisiana, the dish has evolved along a variety of different lines. Creole jambalaya, or red jambalaya, is found primarily in and around New Orleans, where it is simply known as “jambalaya”. Creole jambalaya includes tomatoes, whereas Cajun jambalaya does not.

Cajun jambalaya originates from Louisiana’s rural, low-lying swamp country where crawfish, shrimp, oysters, alligator, duck, turtle, boar, venison, nutria and other game were readily available. Any variety or combination of meats, including chicken or turkey, may be used to make jambalaya. Cajun jambalaya is known as “brown jambalaya” in the New Orleans area; to Cajuns it is simply known as “jambalaya”. Cajun jambalaya has more of a smoky and spicy flavor than its Creole cousin.

Creole jambalaya with shrimp, ham, tomato, and andouille sausage

The first appearance in print of any variant of the word ‘jambalaya’ in any language occurred in Leis amours de Vanus; vo, Lou paysan oou théâtré, by Fortuné (Fortunat) Chailan, first published in Provençal dialect in 1837. The earliest appearance of the word in print in English occurs in the May 1849 issue of the American Agriculturalist, page 161, where Solon Robinson refers to a recipe for ‘Hopping Johnny (jambalaya)’. Jambalaya did not appear in a cookbook until 1878, when the Gulf City Cook Book, by the ladies of the St. Francis Street Methodist Episcopal Church, was printed in South Mobile, Alabama. It contains a recipe for “JAM BOLAYA”.

Jambalaya experienced a brief jump in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s because of its flexible recipe. The dish was little more than the rice and vegetables the populace could afford; the recipe grew from humble roots.

In 1968, Louisiana Governor John J. McKeithen proclaimed Gonzales, Louisiana, “the Jambalaya capital of the world”. Every spring, the annual Jambalaya Festival is held in Gonzales.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Jambalaya

June 15, 2020 at 2:10 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Jambalaya with chicken, andouille sausage, rice, shrimp, celery and spices

Jambalaya (/ˌdʒæmbəˈlaɪ.ə/ JAM-bə-LY-ə, /ˌdʒʌm-/ JUM-) is a popular dish of West African, French (especially Provençal cuisine), Spanish and Native American influence, consisting mainly of meat and vegetables mixed with rice. Traditionally, the meat always includes sausage of some sort, often a smoked meat such as andouille, along with pork or chicken and seafood (less common), such as crawfish or shrimp. The vegetables are usually a sofrito-like mixture known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun cooking, consisting of onion, celery, and green bell pepper, though other vegetables such as okra, carrots, tomatoes, chilis and garlic are also used. After browning and sauteeing the meat and vegetables, rice, seasonings and broth are added and the entire dish is cooked together until the rice is done.

Jambalaya is similar to (but distinct from) other rice-and-meat dishes known in Louisiana cuisine. Gumbo uses similar sausages, meats, seafood, vegetables and seasonings. However, gumbo includes filé powder and okra, which are not common in jambalaya. Gumbo is also usually served over white rice, which is prepared separate from the rest of the dish, unlike jambalaya, where the rice is prepared with the other ingredients. Étouffée is a stew which always includes shellfish such as shrimp or crayfish, but does not have the sausage common to jambalaya and gumbo. Also, like gumbo, étouffée is usually served over separately prepared rice.

Jambalaya may have its origins in several rice-based dishes well attested in the Mediterranean cuisines of France or Spain especially, the Spanish dish paella (native to Valencia), and a French pilau dish in which the word jambalaia is native to Provence) Other seasoned rice-based dishes from other cuisines include pilaf, risotto and Hoppin’ John.

Chicken jambalaya at a restaurant

The first is Creole jambalaya (also called “red jambalaya”). First, meat is added to the trinity of celery, peppers, and onions; the meat is usually chicken and sausage such as andouille or smoked sausage. Next vegetables and tomatoes are added to cook, followed by seafood. Rice and stock are added in equal proportions at the very end. The mixture is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the recipe, with infrequent stirring. Towards the end of the cooking process, stirring usually ceases. Some versions call for the jambalaya to be baked after the cooking of all the ingredients.

The second style, more characteristic of southwestern and south-central Louisiana, is Cajun jambalaya, which contains no tomatoes (the idea being the farther away from New Orleans one gets, the less common tomatoes are in dishes). The meat is browned in a cast-iron pot. The bits of meat that stick to the bottom of the pot (sucs) are what give a Cajun jambalaya its brown color. A little vegetable oil is added if there is not enough fat in the pot. The trinity (of 50% onions, 25% celery, and 25% green or red bell pepper, although proportions can be altered to suit one’s taste) is added and sautéed until soft. Stock and seasonings are added in the next step, and then the meats are returned to the pot. This mixture is then simmered, covered, for at least one hour. Lastly, the mixture is brought to a boil and rice is added to the pot. It is then covered and left to simmer over very low heat for at least 1/2 hour without stirring. The dish is finished when the rice has cooked.

In a less common method, meat and vegetables are cooked separately from the rice. At the same time, rice is cooked in a savory stock. It is added to the meat and vegetables before serving. This is called “white jambalaya”. This dish is rare in Louisiana as it is seen as a “quick” attempt to make jambalaya, popularized outside the state to shorten cooking time.

Many people in the south, and typically in Louisiana, enjoy a simpler jambalaya style. This style is cooked the same as the Cajun style, but there are no vegetables. Many restaurants serve this style as opposed to the others, because it is more child-friendly, has a more consistent texture, and is easier to make.

Jambalaya is considered by most Louisianans to be a filling but simple-to-prepare rice dish; gumbos, étouffées, and creoles are considered more difficult to perfect. Most often a long grain white rice is used in making jambalaya.

Ingredients for jambalaya in a pot beginning to cook

Jambalaya is differentiated from gumbo and étouffée by the way in which the rice is included. In these dishes, the rice is cooked separately and is served as a bed on which the main dish is served. In the usual method of preparing jambalaya, a rich stock is created from vegetables, meat, and seafood; raw rice is then added to the broth and the flavor is absorbed by the grains as the rice cooks.

The origin states jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron. As time went on, French influence became strong in New Orleans, and spices from the Caribbean changed this New World paella into a unique dish. In modern Louisiana, the dish has evolved along a variety of different lines. Creole jambalaya, or red jambalaya, is found primarily in and around New Orleans, where it is simply known as “jambalaya”. Creole jambalaya includes tomatoes, whereas Cajun jambalaya does not.

Cajun jambalaya originates from Louisiana’s rural, low-lying swamp country where crawfish, shrimp, oysters, alligator, duck, turtle, boar, venison, nutria and other game were readily available. Any variety or combination of meats, including chicken or turkey, may be used to make jambalaya. Cajun jambalaya is known as “brown jambalaya” in the New Orleans area; to Cajuns it is simply known as “jambalaya”. Cajun jambalaya has more of a smoky and spicy flavor than its Creole cousin.

Creole jambalaya with shrimp, ham, tomato, and andouille sausage

The first appearance in print of any variant of the word ‘jambalaya’ in any language occurred in Leis amours de Vanus; vo, Lou paysan oou théâtré, by Fortuné (Fortunat) Chailan, first published in Provençal dialect in 1837. The earliest appearance of the word in print in English occurs in the May 1849 issue of the American Agriculturalist, page 161, where Solon Robinson refers to a recipe for ‘Hopping Johnny (jambalaya)’. Jambalaya did not appear in a cookbook until 1878, when the Gulf City Cook Book, by the ladies of the St. Francis Street Methodist Episcopal Church, was printed in South Mobile, Alabama. It contains a recipe for “JAM BOLAYA”.

Jambalaya experienced a brief jump in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s because of its flexible recipe. The dish was little more than the rice and vegetables the populace could afford; the recipe grew from humble roots.

In 1968, Louisiana Governor John J. McKeithen proclaimed Gonzales, Louisiana, “the Jambalaya capital of the world”. Every spring, the annual Jambalaya Festival is held in Gonzales.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Eggs Sardou

March 2, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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Eggs sardou at Red Dog Diner in New Orleans

Eggs Sardou is a Louisiana Creole cuisine dish made with poached eggs, artichoke bottoms, creamed spinach and Hollandaise sauce. It is on the menu of many Creole restaurants in New Orleans, including Antoine’s, where eggs Sardou was invented, and Brennan’s. Eggs Sardou is named for Victorien Sardou, a famous French dramatist of the 19th century, who was a guest in New Orleans when the dish was invented.

Cooked fresh spinach is creamed with a bechamel sauce, a drop or two of Tabasco sauce is added, and pre-cut artichoke bottoms are warmed in a 175°F oven for five to ten minutes. The eggs Sardou are assembled by placing spoonfuls of the warm creamed spinach on a warmed plate. The artichoke bottoms are placed on top of the creamed spinach and the poached eggs are set inside the artichoke bottoms. The assembly is then covered in the Hollandaise sauce. Some cooks omit nutmeg and cloves from the bechamel sauce when using it to cream spinach for eggs Sardou. Eggs Sardou can also be served with truffles, ham and anchovies.

Eggs Sardou should be served at once, while the spinach, artichokes, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce are still warm. For this reason, a warmed plate or bowl is recommended in most recipes. The garnish, if any, should be something of a color that contrasts well with the yellow Hollandaise sauce that tops the dish. This may be anything from crumbled bacon or a small dice of ham to a simple sprinkle of paprika. If served as an appetizer course, no side dishes are needed. If served at brunch, or as an entree, the side dishes should be such that they do not overpower the muted, carefully blended flavors of the eggs, spinach, and sauce. If wine is to be served, it should be white, preferably a slightly sweet white wine.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Calas

February 24, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Plate of calas at a New Orleans restaurant

Plate of calas at a New Orleans restaurant

Calas are dumplings composed primarily of cooked rice, yeast, sugar, eggs, and flour; the resulting batter is deep-fried. It is traditionally a breakfast dish, served with coffee or cafe au lait, and has a mention in most Creole cuisine cookbooks. Calas are also referred to as Creole rice fritters or rice doughnuts.

The origin of calas is most often credited to slaves who came from rice-growing regions of Africa. A 1653 French recipe, beignets de riz, lends support to a French origin as well. The name “calas” is said to have come from the Nupe word kara (“fried cake”). According to The Dictionary of American Food & Drink, the word calas was first printed in 1880.

Creole street vendors, typically women, sold the fresh hot calas in the city’s French Quarter, with the cry, “Bel calas tout chauds!” (Creole for “Beautiful calas, still hot”). These vendors, called “calas women”, would sell their pastries in the early morning from covered baskets or bowls carried upon their heads.

Writers in the first decade of the 20th century refer to the increasing rarity of calas as street food. Though not widely sold, calas continued to be made at home using leftover rice, and was a typical breakfast food in early 20th-century New Orleans.

After World War II, while the beignet remained popular, the calas became more and more obscure. From a breakfast food it evolved into a Mardi Gras and First Communion treat among Louisiana Creole families. It could be specially requested at some restaurants. Through the efforts of food preservationists, interest in calas was revived and it began to appear on the menus of some restaurants.

In early recipes for calas, rice was boiled and cooled, then yeast added to make a sponge that was allowed to proof overnight. From this a batter was made by adding eggs, sugar and a little flour for binding. Rice flour was preferable but difficult to obtain, according to Eustis. A dash of salt might be included, and a grating of nutmeg was a typical addition. The batter was dropped by spoonfuls into deep, boiling lard and fried until browned. Modern recipes reflect the changes in available ingredients, cooking practices, and taste. Baking powder is sometimes used in place of yeast; vegetable oil is substituted for lard; savory variations have been developed.

 

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