From Faith: Mostly we think of Cajuns when we talk about hearty, soul-deep Jambalaya, a blend of flavors that go to town on your palette...smoky sausage, diced tomatoes, shrimp, smoked paprika, green onions and rice. Oh yes, and in this recipe you begin it all with one teaspoon of bacon fat, unless you prefer vegetable oil.
As you might know if you are one of our regulars, I'm a big fan of down-home good dishes that are cooked in a single vessel, because that means it's all been done ahead and you get to enjoy your seat-mates.
This version of Jambalaya is regularly made in Southeast Texas when a bunch of friends are coming over. For me it's the perfect dish for New England Spring weather -- balmy breezes, sleet, pouring rain, howling winds, and a blizzard.
Remember, when I spot a recipe with several spices, which can make a dish absurdly expensive, I head straight to a local health food market that has spices in covered bins; you can buy just a little more than you need at bargain prices compared to the cost of supermarket spices sold in jars. (Most of the spices for this dish will be 50-75 cents at the health food store or co-op!)
If you and your guests like eye-popping heat, feel free to jack up the jalapenos, or, if you have heat-sensitive types coming, go easy on the jalapenos, making sure not to include the seeds, which make things super hot. (If you have someone who is wildly sensitive to heat, dairy is the answer, so invite him or her to add a dollop or two of sour cream or yogurt on top.)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil or bacon grease
1 yellow onion, diced
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1 bell pepper, seeded, stemmed, and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 pieces (12 to 14 ounces total) Andouille or other smoky sausage, sliced into rounds
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup rice
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 green onion, green part only, chopped
- In a 4-quart pot or large , deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, jalapeños, and bell pepper, and cook, occasionally stirring., until the onions are translucent and the peppers are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sausage, and continue to cook, occasionally stirring, until the sausage begins to crisp, about 5 minutes more.
- Add the tomatoes (do not drain the cans), parsley thyme, oregano, cayenne, chicken broth, and rice. Stir until well combined, turn the heat up to high, and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed a lot of the liquid, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove the lid and stir in the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp is pin, about 5 minutes. Stir in the smoked paprika and green onions, and then adjust the seasonings and add salt to taste. Serve immediately.
Easy Homemade Bacon Molasses Breakfast Sausage
Transplanted Texan Lisa Fain grew up in a family that counted making their own breakfast sausage a time-honored tradition. Borrowing on this tradition, and understanding that most of us aren't out back raising hogs, Lisa created this recipe, working until she knew her grandpa would be proud.
This sausage is simple because it's uncured, yet includes a combo of knock-out flavors, perfect with eggs, pancakes, French toast, or waffles. How proud will you be when you mention at brunch that your sausage is homemade?
8 ounces ground pork
4 ounces bacon, finely choppe
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimentón)
½ teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Stir together the port, bacon, molasses, smoked paprika, brown sugar, salt, sage, and black pepper until well combined.
- Heat up a skillet over medium heat and cook a small spoonful of the sausage for a couple of minutes on each side. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
- Once you're satisfied with the flavor balance, refrigerate the mixture for an hour for the flavors to come together. To cook the sausage, form it into 2-inch-wide, ¼-inch-thick patties and fry over medium-high heat until both sides are brown and crisp, 5 minutes per side.
- The sausage will keep in the refrigerator for a week uncooked, and it can also be frozen uncooked for 3 months.
Recipes from The Homesick Texan's Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Family to Yours by Lisa Fain, published by Ten Speed Press 2014.
- Chris Prosperi is chef and owner of Metro Bis Restaurant in Simsbury, CT.
- Lisa Fain is a seventh-generation Texan and author of The Homesick Texan's Family Table. (She lives now in New York City, though she travels as a certified barbecue judge.)