Sunday, September 19, 2010
Since RTB rendered me virtually immobile for my Sunday, I decided I could muster up the strength to hobble and do something productive in the kitchen. The first chills of Fall is usually the time of year that I start to "get my soup on", but sometimes there are ways to get warm and toasty without drinking a hot liquid. Eating something with some Scoville-style heat is one such way. Usually when people aim for spicy, they crank out some wild chili recipe with jalapenos, but chili has always been unsatisfying for me, closer resembling chunky tomato sauce than an actual meal. I've had some tasty chili's, but for my money, jambalaya is where it's at. Something about the rice makes it taste heartier and wholesome, and the extra touches of the three kinds of peppers tend to impart a more complex flavor than most chilis that stick to the ground beef and kidney bean profile.
One problem I have with jambalaya is that almost every recipe calls for shrimp or crawfish or some other sea creature I'm not terribly keen on. Originating in Louisiana as a creole dish explains that I suppose. Even so, I was able to find a recipe that called for sausage instead.
4 sausage links, casings removed
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 large fresh tomatoes, seeded and large diced (or 1 14oz can diced tomatoes)
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 serrano chiles, minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 Tsp. dried oregano
4 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes and rinsed
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
olive oil, butter, salt and pepper
That is the Basmati rice soaking, as I was instructed. I wasn't completely sure why the rice needed to be soaked, (I assumed it was to lower cooking time), but as it turn out there's a bit of flavor science behind it to!
Here are the onion, peppers and celery all laid out.
First thing's first. Remove the casing from the sausage. I used some spicy Italian sausage from Foodmaster (shh, don't tell JL).
Easy enough. I don't exactly know what casings are, and I try not to think about it. I hope them being intestines is just an old wive's tale. Brown these in some olive oil until they are no longer pink, and set them aside.
Throw in the diced veggies from earlier with the sausage juices and some butter, and cook for 10 minutes, until they are soft.
Dice up the Serrano peppers and garlic, and toss these into the pot for 2-3 minutes.
Toss in the Chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme, oregano and bring the whole mess to a boil. Once it is boiling, put in your Basmati rice and reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the rice is soft and the liquid is absorbed.
After the rice is cooked thoroughly, add the juice from one large lemon and your sausage back into the pot, and stir. Stir in the parsley and cover until serving.
I was concerned it wouldn't be very spicy, with only the Serrano peppers and sausage responsible for the heat, but I seriously underestimated the peppers. The jambalaya is deliciously spicy, but not overwhelming, and still has the delicious tomato and salty taste of a good chili. The vegetables are tender but not indistinguishable mush, and the rice is fluffy and tasty. A simple dish with lots to love.