Sometimes Even a Yankee can Cook

Ham and Chicken Jambalaya

When you look at the food of a culture you will find certain items that are synonymous with what you would think of when you picture the culture. When we think of Cajun/Creole cuisine, jambalaya is one of the first items that comes to mind. Now when we get into brass tacks, you will find that the people who live that culture have as many variations of the dish as there are people in the culture.

The Acadians (eventually shortened to Cajuns) were displaced French Settlers that made their way down the Eastern Seaboard to eventually settle in the area that became Louisiana. Though much of the food we find there now has basis in French cooking technique, it has been influenced by the land and the people to become something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

When I first learned how to make jambalaya, everything was cooked together in the same pot, similar to the way paella is made. And then you will find other sources who make their jambalaya keeping the rice separate from the rest, giving the rice a chance to remain crisp and whole. This way treats the dish more like a gumbo but without a roux.

Recipe:

1 medium onion (diced)
1 medium carrot (diced)
2 ribs celery (diced)
1 medium zuchini (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
8 oz diced ham
8 oz diced chicken
2 cups rice (cooked in 31/2 cups water)
1.5 lbs tomatoes (used fresh but can use a can or two)
1 tablespoon basil
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Cayenne to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Sweat the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and zuchini till tender. Add the seasoning and tomatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for roughly 20 minutes (this allows the flavors to merry). Add the chicken and ham and heat through. Serve over the rice.

Notes:

Instead of the Cajun trinity (onion, pepper, and celery) I use a French mire poix (onion, celery, and carrot).
Tasso ham or Andouille sausage work great in this if you can find them. At times I like to use smoked sausage as well (has the smokiness of andouille but not the heat (my family can be weenies at times))
The cayenne and smoked paprika are solely there to fill the gap lost by not using tasso or andouille.

Time for a pint…

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