I was watching an episode of Emeril Lagasse’s show, on the Food Network, the weekend prior to Mardi Gras.  The episode featured classic recipes from New Orleans, and this episode inspired me to surprise my husband on Mardi Gras with Jambalaya and Bread Pudding.  I am a huge fan of Jambalaya. The reason is that the recipe can be altered to your particular taste.  If you look in cookbooks or on the Internet you will find many variations of this classic dish. I encourage you to find one that appeals to you and your family.  The recipe I use comes from the classic cookbook, “The Joy of Cooking”.  I make a couple modifications to suit my own taste, so if you have “The Joy of Cooking” you will see that my recipe is a little different.  This recipe made enough for 3 meals.  We enjoyed it on Mardi Gras and had it for lunch a couple of days later.  I even froze a portion that will be supper in a couple of weeks.  The meal was a huge hit, and Tim said it was the best Jambalaya I’ve ever made (so I will be sticking to this recipe!) The Bread Pudding topped off the meal perfectly.
See you next month, meet me in the kitchen!
Lisa Breithaupt, The Gourmet Librarian

2 pounds of chicken
2 cups of cubed ham
Salt and pepper
2 T of vegetable oil
1 pound of Italian sausage
1 cup of chopped onion
1 medium green pepper chopped
2 stalks of celery
Minced garlic that equals 1 clove
2 cups of rice
2 T of tomato paste
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 cups of hot water
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 T parsley
¼ t. thyme
1/8 t pepper
1 bay leaf
Hot sauce to taste
2 T Worcestershire sauce
3 packets of Sweetener (or sugar ) to taste.

Heat the chicken, cut in bite size pieces, in a large skillet or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes until brown.  Add ham and sausage and cook until brown.  Remove meat to a plate.  Add onion, bell pepper, celery (referred to by chefs as the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cooking) and garlic.  Cook 2 minutes until the veggies are clear.  Add rice, tomato paste and red pepper.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Return the chicken, sausage, and ham to the pot.  Cook covered over medium-low heat until the water is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Continue cooking until the sauce thickens, 5 – 8 minutes.

Although this recipe has a lot of ingredients don’t let it intimidate you.  It’s easy to put together and the dish is absolutely delicious.  If, when you add the rice there doesn’t appear to be enough liquid, add some chicken broth.  Be careful towards the end of cooking stirring frequently to ensure that your rice isn’t sticking.  The sauce should be thick and the rice moist.   Some other side dish suggestions would be creamed spinach, a baked sweet potato, greens, corn on the cob, okra and tomatoes – and don’t forget the cornbread!

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