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Me Oh My Oh!

Secrets of Jambalaya

Photographed and styled EUGENIA UHL

Having showered the powdery white sand off our sun-burned bodies, we carried our steaks down to the gazebo at Destin. “Come on over,” yelled Neil Veron from LaPlace. “Enough for everybody,. Come on over and get a plate.” Just like a local, isn’t it? Taking his food with him, making enough for his family, friends and much more?

We ate our steaks, followed by plates of jambalaya, and, if that wasn’t enough, Veron filled three plates for us to take up to our condos. Lunch, the next day.

His recipe for 100 was too much for me, but I did get a few tips. He doesn’t use tomatoes. His cooker was made for giant servings for which he browned pork butt, chicken and smoked sausage, then added vegetables and spicy seasonings such as Tiger sauce. He simmered this for a long time before stirring in the raw rice and cooking, stirring constantly, over a medium-high heat for quite a while. He then covered it tightly over low heat for exactly 22 minutes. After about three hours, he served up a Gonzales-style jambalaya.

Another tip I liked from Veron was starting the pot with slices of bacon. Cook it half way, then brown your other meats in the fat for a little extra flavor. He also uses chicken base, which I prefer over canned chicken broth.

I love the grouper and amberjack when I go to the Florida beaches. But, then again, there’s nothing like a little home cooking.


Creole Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

2 pounds shrimp
2 Tablespoons oil
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into ¼-inch rounds
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, white and green parts divided, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 large fresh ripe tomatoes, or 1 14.5-ounce can whole Roma tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and Creole seasoning to taste
2 cups long-grain rice
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


Peel and devein shrimp, reserving peelings and heads. Refrigerate shrimp. Place peelings and heads and 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve stock.

In a large, heavy pot, heat oil and cook sausage pieces, turning, until brown. Remove to plate.

Add white onions to pot and sauté until caramelized. Add bell peppers and celery and sauté over low heat for 10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté a minute more. Add tomatoes and seasonings. Return sausage to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stirring, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, measure shrimp stock and place in a medium saucepan with enough water to make 4 cups. Bring to a boil, add a light sprinkling of salt and rice, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until there’s no water in the bottom of the pot.

When all is cooked, gently fold rice, green onion tops and parsley into shrimp-sausage mixture.

Serves 6 to 8


Cajun Jambalaya

4 pieces bacon
1 pound pork butt, cut into cubes
Creole seasoning such as Tony Chachere’s
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size cubes
1 pound andouille, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
7 cups water, divided
2 Tablespoons hot sauce
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
2 Tablespoons chicken base
3 cups long-grain rice
1 teaspoon salt


In a large, heavy pot, fry bacon until half done. Sprinkle pork pieces liberally with Creole seasoning and brown over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove from pot onto plate. Sprinkle chicken with seasoning and brown for 10 minutes and remove to plate. Brown sausage and remove to plate.

Add onions to the pot and caramelize well. Add all other vegetables and sauté for 10 more minutes. Add meat, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Then add 1 cup water, hot sauce, Worcestershire and chicken base, stir well, cover and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan with a top. When boiling, add rice and salt. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook until rice is done, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Turn off heat under both pots and gently stir rice into meat mixture. Cover and let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 10 to 12


Pastalaya

1 pound medium shrimp
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound smoked sausage, sliced in ¼-inch rounds
1 large boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
Creole seasoning
1 14.5-ounce can whole Roma tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti
Parmesan cheese


Peel and devein shrimp, reserving peelings and heads. Set shrimp aside. In a medium pot, cover the shrimp peelings and heads in 3 cups water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes to make a stock.

Meanwhile, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. Sauté onion and peppers until limp. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

In a separate skillet, heat remaining 2 Tablespoons oil and brown sausage. Add sausage to pot. Sprinkle chicken with Creole seasoning, brown in skillet and add to pot, along with seasonings.

Strain stock into pot and discard shrimp shells. Add tomatoes and seasonings and bring to a boil, stirring well. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Uncover, turn heat up to medium-high and add pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook 5 more minutes or until pasta is al dente – done but firm. Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side.

Serves 6 to 8

 

 

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