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.
Adapted, barely, from Felicity Cloake, Guardian.
- Sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Large saucepan pan
- Lid for the pan
- Wooden spoon
- Slotted spoon/flipper
- Optional tools
- Measuring spoons
- 3.5 teaspoons cajun spice mix
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 smoked sausages
- 4 bone-in chicken thighs
- 1 onion 150g
- 1 green pepper 300g
- 1 celery stick 70g
- 3 cloves garlic 10-15g
- 4 spring onions 70g
- 800 ml Chicken or pork stock
- Few drops Tabasco sauce
- 300 g long grain rice
- 300 g fish I used coley fillets
- If using frozen fish, remove from freezer
- Slice the sausages into 2cm-ish slices
- Finely dice the onion, celery and green pepper
- Crush/finely chop the garlic
- Pour the oil into the pan and add the sausage until it sizzles - quite hot, not max
- Brown both cut sides and remove
- Repeat with the chicken
- Turn the heat to medium and allow to cool for a minute
- Add onion, green pepper, celery and garlic to the pan and cook until tender (about
- 10 minutes); some people like to place a lid on the pan (I find it helps)
- When tender, add the garlic and and stir around for a minute
- Add the spice mix and stir well to make sure that the veg is well coated in spice mix
- Return the chicken to the pot, pour in the stock and the Tabasco
- Simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender then add the rice
- Simmer for another 10 minutes
- Next, stir the rice once, place the lid on and leave for 15 minutes
- After the 15 minutes are up, remove the chicken and set aside
- Turn the heat to low
- Add sausage and fish to the rice mixture
- Stir the rice around the meat and fish once, replace the lid and leave to steam
- As soon as you can, shred the meat off the bones
- Stir the chicken through the rice mixture
- Store in a lidded container, in the fridge, for up to 4 days
- Reheat CAREFULLY until piping hot
- You can freeze, in a lidded container, for a month or so