Posts Tagged 'bay leaf'

Shrimp, Chicken, & Sausage Jambalaya

“Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and filé gumbo…son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.” So goes the refrain of the famous song “Jambalaya” by Hank Williams Sr.

Leave it to the folks in Louisiana to make a catchy tune about food their anthem. No where else in the country is food such an integral part of the culture. One only has to mention the city New Orleans and good times and great food come to mind.

South Louisianans have a love and a passion for good food. Their cuisine is unique because, as a whole, it has a much bigger flavor than what you get in the rest of the United States.

For those not born and raised in Louisiana, what we consider “Cajun” food for the most part is technically “Creole” cooking. The French who settled in Southern Louisiana in the early 1700s adapted their own outstanding culinary techniques to the abundant herbs, seafood, games, meat, vegetables and fruits of the region. Eventually their cooking style was infused with spiciness from the Spanish settlers and African slaves’ use of herbs. This mélange of styles became known as Creole cookery.

Native Louisianans differentiate between Creole cooking and Cajun cooking based on the use of rouxs and spices. Creole cooking is based on French techniques with less emphasis on roux than Cajun cooking.  The herbs of choice are oregano, basil, thyme and bay leaf. Also, almost every dish has celery, parsley, onions and bell peppers in its list of ingredients. Cajun cooking on the other hand is heavily dependant on the use of rouxs. It uses the same herbs and vegetables as Creole cooking but often adds the spice of cayenne or Tabasco.

Creole cooking is most attributed to New Orleans whereas Cajun food is most identified with towns such as Lafayette and Ville Platte in Southwest Louisiana.

The Creole version of “dirty rice,” jambalaya is best enjoyed simply with a loaf of crusty French bread. My recipe include shrimp, chicken, and sausage…but you can omit easily omit the shrimp if someone at your table has an allergy.

Enjoy! 

Shrimp, Chicken, and Sausage Jambalaya

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Andouille sausage, diced
1/2 cup small-diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup seeded and small-diced green bell pepper (1 pepper)
1/4 cup finely diced celery (2 ribs)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 can (15-ounce) tomato sauce
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups white rice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined 

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Sauté the chicken, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and then, in the same pot, sauté the sausage until browned. Transfer the sausage to the plate with the chicken. Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot.

To the pot, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. (Stir often so that everything cooks evenly.) Add the garlic, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves and sauté until the mixture is cooked down, about 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the vegetable mixture is cooking, combine the tomato sauce and chicken stock in a separate pot and bring to a simmer.

Add the rice to the vegetable mixture and sauté for about 3 minutes. Return the meats to the pot and stir to combine. Continuously stirring to combine, slowly pour the tomato and stock mixture into the jambalaya. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Bring the jambalaya to a boil, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and fold in the shrimp.  Let everything continue to cook in the hot covered pot for an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm. 

Serves 6 to 8.

Cooking Tip: Andouille sausage is a smoked, spicy pork sausage that is popular in Cajun recipes such as gumbo and jambalaya. If you can’t easily find it in you local grocery, Chorizo is an acceptable substitute.

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Crock Pot Beef Stew

Do you have a crock pot?  I didn’t think I did. Then one day last year I decided to clean out my pantry.  And low and behold, what did I find tucked at the very back of the top shelf?  A brand-spankin’ new crock pot.

I thought “Now where did this come from?”  As I was scratching my head in puzzlement, I opened the lid and lying inside was a gift card from Goldsmith’s Department Store (which by the way has been a Macy’s for a long, long time). The enclosure read “Best Wishes! Happy Cooking!” It seems this long-forgotten crock pot had been a wedding present.  It had been tucked away waiting patiently to be used for over 11 (Yes…I said 11!) years!

Neither my parents nor my grandparents had a crock pot so I had never used one before.  It was one of those wedding gifts where I appreciated the thought…but I didn’t really have a use for it.  (Now that I have discovered it, I am so glad that I didn’t gift it to Goodwill like I had that huge Japanese rice cooker I had gotten.)

As chance would happen, my sister had recently been telling me about this great beef stew she had made.  So I decided to give it a try in my “new” crock pot.  Before heading off to work that morning, I browned the meat and threw all the ingredients in.  With a bit of skepticism, I turned the pot on and headed out the door.  I thought “This is too easy to be true.  Will this taste good?  Will it be done when I get home?”

When I opened my back door hours later, I was hit by the delicious aroma of wine, tomatoes and garlic.  I rushed over to the pot and lifted the lid.  I was thrilled to discover a simmering pot of juicy and tender beef stew.  The beef literally fell apart at the touch and the tomatoes, wine and beef had rendered a delicious sauce.  I though “Wow!  Paul is going to think I spent all day in the kitchen!”

All that was left for me to do was boil a pot of rice.  (Heck…maybe I should have kept that Japanese rice cooker!) And since I had used a little wine to deglaze my browning pan, I also had almost a full bottle open to enjoy with my “no-effort” gourmet dinner!

So, here is a recipe that will turn even the most skeptical slow cooker skeptic into a crock pot enthusiast!

Enjoy!

P.S.: I am still trying to build up my crock pot recipe repertoire, so feel free to share your favorite slow cooker recipes!

Crock Pot Beef Stew

This is one of my favorite work-day dishes. I place everything in the crock pot before I head off to work…and when I come home, I have a delicious home-cooked meal waiting to be served.

4 pounds chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup good red wine, such as a Merlot or Shiraz
1 can (28-ounce) whole tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
2 bay leaves

Generously season the meat with salt and pepper.

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Working in two batches so as not to over crowd the pan, cook the meat, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Place the meat in a crock pot. Pour the red wine into the skillet, scraping the brown bits off the bottom, to deglaze the pan. Pour the wine mixture into the crock pot.

Add the whole tomatoes to the crock pot, breaking them up with a spoon or fork. Add the garlic, carrots, and the bay leaves. Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours. Adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: If you do not have a crock pot, you can still make this dish. Instead of putting the ingredients into a crock pot, place them in a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot with a lid and bake in a 250 degree oven for 3 hours.

Freezes well

Chili Con Carne

The cowboys of the Old West knew just what they were doing when they concocted chili. Nothing satisfies on a chilly winter night like this spicy one-dish meal.

I am what you may consider a chili “purist”… a simple yet spicy Chili Con Carne being my favorite.  The heat in my recipe comes from chili powder.  But I also add cumin and oregano to give the flavor more depth. 

I don’t normally add beans to mine, but if you like beans in your chili, no problem. Just add a drained can (15-ounce) of red kidney beans. 

This simple, old West dish is also an ideal dinner party option.  Chili is easy to make (the cowboys did it over a simple campfire), can be made ahead of time, and even freezes well.

Set out colorful bowls, encourage guests to serve themselves straight from the pot and then garnish their chili with their favorite toppings from your “chili bar.”  Sour cream, fresh cilantro, jalapenos, minced onion, shredded cheese, diced mild green chilies, and hot sauce all make great garnishes to any bowl of chili.  Plus your guests will have a ball concocting their own signature dish.

Enjoy!

Chili Con Carne

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup small-diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup seeded and small-diced green bell pepper (1 pepper)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 dash paprika
1 bay leaf
1 can (15-ounce) whole tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups water

In a large stockpot over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano, cayenne, paprika, and bay leaf and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the whole tomatoes to the pot, breaking them up with a spoon or fork. Add the tomato paste, sugar, and water to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve hot.

Serves 6.


Jennifer Chandler

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