And today is Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It’s the day when you have the last hurrah, the last night, of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. In keeping with Mardi Gras tradition, which is celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana in this country, we had jambalaya for dinner. Our version of jambalaya comes out of the Time/Life series “Foods of the World”, particularly from the volume – American Cooking: Creole and Acadian.We have been using this recipe forever, as you can see from the condition of the page in the book, and, except for a few changes we still follow it pretty close.
If you don’t already have a great jambalaya recipe take a chance on this one. Best of all we are including our sure-fire, never fail rice recipe. Curt learned this recipe from a Chinese Ladies-aid cookbook his roommate brought home back when he was in the Navy. Perfect rice, every time.
So get out your beads and feathers, put on some zydeco music and start cookin’!
Shrimp and Ham Jambalaya
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp
1 tsp salt
6 Tb butter
1 1/2 C chopped onions
2 Tb finely chopped garlic
1 pound can tomatoes, drained (save liquid) and finely chopped
3 Tb canned tomato paste
1/2 C chopped celery
1/4 C chopped green pepper
1 Tb finely chopped fresh parsley
3 whole cloves, pulverized w/mortar and pestle
1/2 tsp crumbled dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 pound cooked smoked ham, cut into 1/2″ cubes
Shell and devein shrimp.
In a heavy 5-6 qt casserole, melt butter over moderate heat. When foam subsides, add onion and garlic. Stir frequently, cook for 5 min. until soft and transparent. Add tomatoes, the tomato liquid, tomato paste and stir over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the celery, green pepper, parsley, cloves, thyme, cayenne, black pepper and salt. Stir frequently, cook uncovered over moderate heat till vegetables are tender and the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape lightly in the spoon.
Add the ham, cook for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, cook till pink and firm.
Long Grain Rice to Water: 1:1
add an additional 2 Tb water if using short grain rice.
Measure out one cup of rice, rinse with cold water until water runs clear. Add rice to pan. Add one cup of water. Let sit 10 minutes. Bring rice to a boil, immediately reduce heat to the lowest possible. Cover. Leave covered till water is almost completely absorbed. Turn off heat. Let sit about 5 minutes till rest of water is absorbed, probably the time it takes to finish up the shrimp, get the table set and the wine poured.
Put some jambalaya in your bowl, add a scoop of rice and…
Laissez les bons temps rouler
(Let the Good Times Roll)