Fat Tuesday Jambalaya
With winter falling away behind us (or, at least most of us), SoupAddict is definitely in the mood for some celebration. And it really should be no surprise to learn that a food centric holiday like Fat Tuesday is right up SoupAddict’s alley. A big pot of jambalaya with a side of King Cake sounds like a perfectly reasonable way to spend the afternoon, yes? I thought so.
Anyhoo, the party in the month of Mardi Gras that year was hosted by one of the hipper departments, so, at least it was a given that it wouldn’t be a disaster. Oh, it was still awkward, and some definite Mardi-Gras weirdness surfaced from seemingly normalish people (even without alcohol), but all around, not bad.
Towards the end of the alloted party time, I went back to get a slice of King Cake.
King Cake is a sweet, festive pastry, distinctively decorated in purple, green and gold, then draped with beads, that I always associate with good times and pleasant memories. But not this time. I walked into party central to find a wall-length counter positively littered with King Cake corpses. The hosts had bought about a dozen or so large King Cakes—far too many, bless their hearts—which were delivered in pizza boxes and lined up along the wall. The leftover cakes were demolished, smooshed, smeared and mangled, as greedy hands had torn off pieces without regard. The concept of cutlery had been totally lost to the revelers. Icing, filling, crumbs, everywhere. Box after box of purple, green and yellow wreckage. Like the victims of a bakery shooting squad.
Oh, God, I can still see it when I close my eyes.
It was a horrible sight for a foodie to witness. If I had taken a picture, I’d submit it to CakeWrecks.com. Believe it, it’s true.
And since then, I haven’t been able to look at King Cakes with the same affection. Oh, I still bake a King Cake for Mardi Gras, but my eyelid develops a tic as a result. Is it too late to sue for emotional distress? What’s the statute of limitations on King Cake trauma?
The end. Now back to regular programming.
Fat Tuesday Jambalaya
Makes 6 generous servings
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into rough 1/2 pieces
1/2 lb. andouille sausage cut into thin slices or removed from casing and crumbled
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning, divided
2 14-1/2 oz cans chicken broth (or 2 cups of homemade stock)
1 cup of water
2 teaspoons fish sauce (optional)
2 cups rice
2 bay leaves
8 oz. smoked sausage (fully cooked) sliced into 1/4″ half moons
1/2 teaspoon thyme or one large sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed, stem discarded
Place oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chicken and andouille sausage and cook until browned. Remove meat to a bowl.
Add butter to the pot and scrap up any brown bits that formed while cooking the meat. Add all the veggies (onions, peppers, celery) and saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle Creole seasonings over vegetables and stir to combine.
Add chicken stock, water, fish sauce and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a good simmer. Add the reserved meat and the smoked sausage and cover the pot. You want to cook the jambalaya for a total of an hour from this point.
Check the package directions on your rice, and, calculating backwards from an hour, add the rice to the simmering jambalaya to coincide with the completion of cooking time. Cover. Check the jambalaya frequently, stirring only minimally, and add water a little at a time if the mixture seems too clumpy or pasty. It should not be soupy, but it should also not be a sticky ball of stuff. Add the shrimp 10 minutes before the end of cooking. After the shrimp have pinked up and turned opaque, turn off the heat and allow the jambalaya to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper or more Creole seasonings, if necessary. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
This dish can be made ahead and refrigerated. Reheat, adding liquid if necessary. Makes great leftovers and work-week lunches.