Creole and cajun cuisine has always interested me, and I don’t really know why. I think because the flavours and layers and history are fascinating
– how French, African-diaspora, American and English histories combine. I started cooking some Louisiana style food when the StorrCupboard babies were small, having photocopied (yes it was 2006…) most of a little book from my South London library.
It may be incidental, but there’s a lot of baked goods in creole and cajun cooking. And whiskey. And fat.
I won’t ever understand marshmallows and sweet potato, or frito pie, or pumpkin pie. But a chunky cornbread
? Jambalaya? These foods enabled people on limited means to eat joyfully, making the most out of bits and bobs and, as I’ve talked about, that’s how I managed to feed my family when times were lean. And a small amount of leftover meat can be used perfectly. So … yes please.
Your leftover green pepper is one of the essentials in building your jambalaya. Like onion, carrot, garlic and celery in French or Italian cuisine, green pepper, onion, celery and garlic is what you need for cuisine from the Deep South. The bitterness that some of us (cough) struggle with is essential. In a dish like this, rich with smoked sausage, chicken and fish, and filling with rice, the bitter note is perfect and stops it from being too rich.
Note: if you have access to amazingly diverse food shops, Andouille sausage is ideal. If not, Tolouse, or a Polish smoked sausage. I had only fancy fresh hot-dog sausages that have been in the UK supermarkets for the past couple of summers, and they were great.
With the meat, it’s about weight. I went for white fish as there are many ethical problems with prawns eaten in the UK, and they are hellish expensive. Mussels would work, or salmon – this is a dish where the rice and the veg pad out and showcase the meat. Keep the ratios the same and make it the dish that you love.