not quite jambalaya

January 14th, 2012
not quite jambalaya

I bought some house-made smoked andouille sausage from the butcher last week. I think I’ve only eaten andouille sausage once or twice, probably in a jambalaya which I imagine I must have tasted off my husband’s plate. It’s not a dish I tend to order, for some reason, and, to be fair, Cajun cuisine isn’t really popular around these parts. The andouille appealed as it was house-made (they know their way around pork), smoked (mmm), and I’d never cooked with it before.

To be honest, I know very little about Cajun food, having never lived in nor visited an area populated by people of that particular heritage. As a result, I’ve only ever sampled what I assume are vague approximations of Cajun cuisine. I do know it’s a complex cuisine, with French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Caribbean, and African heritage, and that its holy trinity is onions, peppers, and celery. And I had a pot of rice just waiting to turn into breakfast. So I threw together this thing that isn’t really jambalaya at all, just a combination of flavors that I thought might combine well, while highlighting the smoky flavor of the fatty sausage. It is reminiscent of the abstract idea of jambalaya, as imagined by a hungry Californian on a Saturday morning. The result is just a little fiery, a little smokey, and deliciously redolent of paprika. The texture is very satisfying, combining soft scrambled eggs, bite-size sausage pieces, and warm, filling rice. If you have any shrimp, by all means, toss them in. They add yet another dimension of texture and the taste of the ocean.

not quite jambalaya

I didn’t have a green bell pepper, otherwise I would have included it in this dish. Bell pepper is an important ingredient in the Cajun “holy trinity”, which also includes onion and celery. The dish was quite good without it, but I think it would have been even better with some diced bell pepper. As I often do, I used ingredients that I had on hand. You can do the same.

2 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 small leek (both white and green parts), 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 smoked andouille sausage, cut into quarters lengthwise and diced
sweet paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, Mexican oregano, allspice, salt and pepper
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups cooked rice
a handful of thin slices of Spanish chorizo, cut into ribbons
1/2 bunch broccoli rabe (or other greens), chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/2 lime

  1. Place a large skillet or wok over medium heat.
  2. Melt the butter in the skillet along with the olive oil.
  3. Add the leek, carrot, and celery to the pan. Fry the vegetables until they are golden.
  4. Add in the sausage and stir. Season to taste with the spices. I used a relatively large amount of sweet paprika, at least 1-2 teaspoons, and smaller amounts of the other spices, and just a dash of allspice.
  5. Stir the vegetables to coat them well with the spices.
  6. Push the vegetables to the side and add more olive oil or butter if the skillet looks dry. When the fat is hot, slowly add the beaten eggs and scramble them.
  7. When the eggs are scrambled, combine them with the vegetable mixture.
  8. Add in the rice and combine with the eggs, vegetables, and sausage.
  9. Add the chorizo ribbons and toss to combine.
  10. Add the chopped broccoli rabe or greens. When they begin to wilt, combine them with the rice mixture.
  11. Add the diced tomato and combine.
  12. Cook until the greens are bright green and wilted.
  13. Squeeze over some of the juice of half a lime and turn off the flame.

Serves 3-4.

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