Just what is this stuff you call Jambalaya?Posted: May 11, 2012
Jambalaya is a popular dish in Louisiana, probably because it is fairly inexpensive to make, can feed a lot of people, and cooked with just about anything you have on hand (perfect for that left over roast, or turkey you have become tired of slicing and warming up). In spite of being cheap and made with old food, it’s very tasty. It’s fairly simple to make and you only dirty one pot for a meal. This makes this dish perfect for a family or social gathering.
There are three parts to a jambalaya – meat, vegetables, and rice. The dish is culminated when you add water and heat to bind the ingredients together. Think of making a stew with lots of gravy, then adding raw rice to soak up all the gravy. Jambalaya’s key ingredient is a lone meat or any combination of beef, pork, chicken, sausage, giblets, game or seafood.
There were originally two types of jambalaya, Creole and Cajun. Now days, you may find hybrids of both as cooks share their recipes. Creole jambalaya, sometimes called “red jambalaya,” is mainly found in New Orleans. It gets its red color from adding tomatoes as an ingredient. Creole jambalaya also tends to have more complex seasonings and seafood as an ingredient.
Cajun jambalaya, or “brown jambalaya,” is more likely found in the rural and Cajun parts of Louisiana. It gets its brown color because meat is seared in the first stage of cooking, thus carmalizing the bottom of the pot. By adding water or broth, the carmalization breaks away, adds a brown color, as well as flavor, and turns the rice an appealing brown color. Cajun jambalaya tends to have a smokey flavor from smoked meat or sausage being used. The seasoning is likely a simple combination of salt and peppers.
A third, less popular type, is sometimes called Poor Man’s. It usually consists of ground beef, cabbage and rice.
Next I’ll post one of my jambalaya recipes.