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JAMBALAYA Recipe

BDG Proverb: The term "jambalaya" is derived from the Spanish jamón for ham. Jambalaya found its way into Creole cookery in the late 1700's where it soon took on the flavor of added local ingredients. Personally, I really don’t give a damn where it came from, this kind of history just gives the book some class. Don’t you think?

Starting with church fairs, which were the largest public gatherings at the turn of the century, Jambalaya emerged from small quantity indoor cooking to become the ideal dish for outdoor cooking over hardwood fire. Big black cast iron pots made preparation so easy and economical for church use that Jambalaya was rapidly adapted for political rallies, weddings, family reunions, and of course Super Bowl Parties!

1 whole chicken
1 lb. smoked sausage OR1 lb. diced smoked ham (maybe some shrimp?)
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 - 6 cloves garlic, minced (amount to taste; I like lots)
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 small cans tomato paste
1 28-oz. can tomatoes (I like to mix in it in the blender for just a sec.)
2-1/2 cups good chicken stock
Creole seasoning blend to taste
4 or so dashes of hot sauce (Louisiana Hot Sauce)
2 bay leaves
4 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked

Remove all the good meat from the chicken and cut into cubes. Save the remaining skin and bones for the stock (see Chicken Stock in this book). Brown the chicken, sprinkling with Tony Chachere's seasoning. Don't brown if using leftover cooked bird, but you still might want to season the meat. Tear or cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Remove chicken and place in a bowl. In the same pan brown the sliced smoked. Remove sausage, leave fat and sauté the onions, garlic, peppers and celery in until onions begin to turn transparent. Drain fat and place sausage in chicken bowl. Place tomato paste in pan and let it brown a little (this is probably a good time to mention that the pan should be non-stick, if possible). What we're going for here is called the Maillard reaction (yeah, yeah, it's a fancy culinary term for "browning" ...); the sugar in the tomato paste begins to caramelize, deepening the flavor and color. Keep it moving so that it browns but doesn't burn.

De-glaze (a not-so-fancy culinary term) the pan with the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix up the browned bits, and stir until smooth. Pour paste mix into a large pot and add to the sautéed vegetables and combine thoroughly. It should be pretty thick. If it isn't thick enough, you can add a little more tomato paste. If you think it's too much of a pain to brown the tomato paste, then omit this step. It's certainly optional; it's just that it tastes better when I opt to do it this way. Add the Creole seasoning and salt to taste. Cook over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the meats and cook another 10 minutes, be careful not to overcook it. For a little improvement try adding cooked shrimp to the mix.

Prepare the 4 cups of rice according to recipe. When done, combine with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. You may have to add more rice, or more tomato sauce to get the right consistency, not too dry and not too runny. Adjust seasonings as needed. Place in a large baking dish (or dishes) and bake in a 300 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until the jambalaya has thoroughly "set".

Serve with salad, French bread, and the TV remote. GO SAINTS!