by Eric Wharton
My Recipe Book, constantly being added to
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and filé gumbo
Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma cher amio
— Hank Williams, "Jambalaya (On The Bayou)"
First, lets get these Louisiana dishes separated out. There is Creole Jambalaya, Cajun Jambalaya, gumbo, and étouffée—all of which are related, but not the same. All are Sofrito-type dishes, which typically consist of aromatic ingredients cut into small pieces and sautéed or braised in cooking oil. They are either Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian in origin and contain the trinity of onion-celery-green pepper.
Creole jambalaya, more characteristic of New Orleans, is also called "red jambalaya" because it includes tomatoes as an ingredient. Rice is also included as part of the stew. Cajun jambalaya, characteristic of southwestern and south-central Louisiana, also has rice as part of the stew base, but it had no tomatoes.
Presumably the further away from New Orleans, the less available tomatoes become, at least historically. Gumbo is similar to jambalaya, but it includes a filé powder (ground up leaves and stems of Sassafrass) and is served over rice rather than inclusive of it. Finally, étouffée includes shellfish, but does not have the sausage common to jambalaya and gumbo. Though, like gumbo, it's usually served over rice.
I call this dish St. Charles Creole Jambalaya because it contains tomatoes and rice, but does not include shellfish—my wife is severely allergic to shellfish. So while it has its roots in the rice-based dishes of Spanish paella, West African dish jollof, and the French dish known as jambalaia, it contains only what I, of Germanic background, would use (St. Charles and St. John the Baptist Parishes of New Orleans contained a sizable German Creole group).
1 lb smoked sausage (preferably andouille) sliced into medallions
1 lb ground beef
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
21/2 cup water
1 cup uncooked brown rice (Basmati for diabetics)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Soak rice for 30 minutes beforehand (will cook faster later).
Cook sausage until brown. Remove and discard drippings.
Begin to brown ground beef and then add peppers, onions, and celery. Sauté vegetables along with beef until meat is thoroughly browned and then drain.
Add tomatoes, sausage, and seasonings to ground beef mixture, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add rice and water. Cover and cook for 25 minutes or until rice is tender.
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