Large cast iron pots or kettles full of jambalaya and cooks armed with paddles are a common scene in Louisiana, especially when there is football to be played or money to be raised. Tailgating can be a delightful sensory experience, in fact one can just follow their nose around finding the smoldering pots laden with sausage, seafood, vegetables, or the weekend’s trophy…anything goes. The definition of jambalaya on Wikipedia, is “meat and vegetables mixed with rice”, but it can be all meat, all seafood, all vegetables, are all of the above, and if you don’t have any rice, no problem, add pasta and call it Pastalaya! One of the perks of cooking mass quantities of jambalaya is the freedom of ingredients. The many combinations that can be used in a pot of jambalaya also make it an easy, cost-effective entrée to serve for successful benefits. Each year, I am an honored volunteer of a dear friend’s family benefit. We serve jambalaya and white beans…and yes, I’m guilty of putting my white beans over the jambalaya. Never tried it? I highly recommend it, but of course, I am a white bean fan.
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: This soup is just as versatile as jambalaya itself. Make it into a “pantry” soup and use canned vegetables (lima beans a nice addition) instead of frozen or fresh. Have other leftovers, like ham, beans, chicken? Throw it in. Think about how other stocks could enhance the flavor. Vegetable jambalaya use vegetable stock or corn cob stock, seafood jambalaya use seafood stock or beef stock. What other vegetables could you add? Carrots? Squash? Zucchini? Eggplant? Just remember to adjust the cooking times for fresh vs frozen vegetables. Still have some leftover jambalaya? Use it as an easy stuffing for chicken, shrimp, fish, or peppers or use it to make a quick sauce:
In a saucepan over medium low heat, add 1/2 cup cold jambalaya, (chop any large pieces of chicken, seafood, or sausage) 1/4 cup diced tomatoes or peppers. Heat until warm. Stir in 1/3 cup whipping cream, heavy cream, or half and half. Stir until smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Will thicken more upon standing. Tasty over fried catfish (my favorite), blackened fish, baked or fried chicken, omelettes, or biscuits!
FOOD FUN: “Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou” Yes, jambalaya is so good, Hank Williams wrote a song about it, “Jambalaya (On the Bayou) was written and released in 1952 and is guaranteed to make you want to kick your heels up while stirring your jambalaya soup! While many artists have recorded the song, here is the original. Have a listen: Jambalaya (On the Bayou)