Hi Y’all! Today is that greatest of holidays, Mardi Gras!
Also known as Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day (Hullo hullo, UK friends!), Carnivale, and a slew of other names, it’s the last day in the Liturgical (read: church) year before the season of Lent begins. Once upon the middle ages and Renaissance, Christian folks would give up sugar, butter, meat, and most of what makes a diet pleasurable during those 40 days and 40 nights, leaving them with nothing to do the day before but … eat, well, everything. Hence, one of the world’s best food-fests was born!
This year, I had an early celebration with friends to observe the day and, frankly, find an excuse to fill the tub of a slow-cooker with Hurricanes. (Note to self: Don’t fill the tub of a slow-cooker with Hurricanes. Unmeasured Hurricanes = erm … interesting mornings after.) One friend who had lived in Baton Rouge whipped up oodles of Jambalaya, that tasty combo of sausage, chicken, shrimp, rice, and the “Trinity” of bell pepper, onion and celery. Check it out!
Tonight, I’ll be whipping up my own batch of N’Awlins-style jambalaya, inspired by the day’s celebrations. If you’d like to make your own, here’s the recipe I’m planning to use. Thanks, Martha! (“It’s a good thing.” Does anyone else miss her old show? Or those Christmas specials where she’d make a gingerbread house approximately as big as my current apartment?) Let the good times roll!
Martha’s Quick Jambalaya — serves 4. Easily doubled or halved.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, or 1-2 cups cooked chicken, cubed.
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
- 1 pound andouille sausage or other smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
- 3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning or Cajun/Creole seasoning
- 1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes with juice
- 1 cup long-grain rice or 1 cup brown rice
Here’s what you do:
- In a large stock pot, soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken, seasoning with salt & pepper, and cook until browned and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Cut into 3/4 inch chunks and set aside.
- Add veggies to the pot. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sauce; cook 3 more minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in stock, Old Bay / Cajun seasoning, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup water. Raise heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil.
- Add rice & chicken. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand about 30-35 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed.
- Fluff / stir and serve!
If you don’t have Cajun seasoning, Old Bay is an easy substitute that adds shrimp / seafood flavor without the extra hassle of peeling, cleaning and cooking the shrimp. Otherwise, you can combine the following spices in 1/2 to 1 tsp amounts to your liking to create a Cajun seasoning blend:
|2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
|1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
What are your Mardi Gras fans, GKG readers? Planning on partying on the town? Whipping up your own Mardi Gras madness at home? Do tell!