January 1, 2012...seems strange...2012...don't you think the years are just whizzing by?!? Wasn't it just 1989? I'm trying to get my head around it all - years seem like weeks, weeks seem like days, and a day can drag on and on and on! Go figure! So here we are, another year has come and gone and it's resolution day.
Over breakfast this morning I asked the mister what his resolutions for this coming year are and he said, "I don't make resolutions, you know that, that's a bunch of bunk." Bunk. And then, my wordsmith went on to say, "Here's one, I resolve to be a better husband and father." Now, before you get all puppy-eyed and let an aaaah roll off your tongue, may I remind you that the mister is the world's only living heart donor...he doesn't have ice water in his veins, he's got embalming fluid which helps keep his pulse at a steady zero. For a split second, I, like you, may have been fooled...but then I see it...his smirk and wait for it...yes, there it is...his little he-he-he-he-he...deep and gravelly (from a raucous evening with his good friend Jack)...so charming...so I said to the mister, interrupting his little laughter, How do you plan to do that? And he said in return, "That's enough badgering for one morning, leave me alone!" And we're off to a great start for the New Year!
Jambalaya...fun to say, fun to eat...and it's easier than you think to make. Jambalaya is one of the most flavorful comfort foods there is...chicken, sausage and shrimp cooked in a rich broth that can be as spicy as you want, or not, and it's either served over rice or the rice can be added to the pot. You end up with a delicious conglomeration of Southern-meets-Island flavors...think of it as Mardi Gras for your mouth.
This is my new Wagner Wear Magnalite Roaster...it was a Christmas gift from my sweet mom and dad. My parents have one and they have cooked the best-tasting roasts and soups and stews in their roaster for probably more than 30 or 40 years...they swear by it and I can attest to it. You can still purchase these (Wagner Wear, it's been around since 1865!) roasters, but my mom got me this one on e-bay, and she was lucky to get it! Bidding on these roasters is fast and furious, I know, I've tried to get one before and never had the winning bid! Thanks mom and dad - I am going to love this beauty!
Jambalaya seemed like the perfect maiden-voyage dish to make in my new roaster...but you don't need a roaster to make Jambalaya...just a big pot and a little more than an hour of time. One more thing about Jambalaya...since it's a "jumbled-up" dish...you can add what you want...if you want more shrimp, then put them in, if you don't want shrimp, leave them out - it's all up to you. I usually use chicken with bones in when I cook this because it gives the dish more flavor...but if you want to make things easy on yourself, use boneless, skinless chicken...like I said, it's all up to you!
Jambalaya - Pots and Pins
12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 chicken legs with thighs attached, skin removed
2 chicken breasts, skin removed
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, finely chopped (I didn't have any green pepper on the day I made this batch)
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup rice
5 oz. Andouille sausage, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot (or a Wagner Wear Roaster!) heat oil and butter over medium-high heat and add onion, pepper and celery and cook until all are soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, Creole seasoning, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Stir in canned tomatoes. broth and chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice, reduce heat to medium-low and cook with lid on until rice has absorbed liquid and is tender, about 20 more minutes. When rice is just tender add shrimp and sausage. Cook until heated through, about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more Creole seasoning and hot sauce, if desired. Just before serving, remove chicken pieces. Remove bones and cut into bit-sized pieces, return to pot. Serves 8 to 10. (My Jambalaya is a little on the soupy side because I added 10 cups of chicken stock instead of 8...counting is not my thing. But tomorrow all of the liquid will have been absorbed so the leftovers will be perfect!)
"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions!" Joey Adams