The second Sunday of football season entertaining went on as planned-for me anyway-with delicious food and a great game!
Yesterday, the Philadelphia Eagles played the New Orleans Saints in the Eagles’ home opener. The skies were blue, and the temperature was perfection and the Brees as in
Drew Brees was on fire. Like a true New Orleans girl, I woke up early-around 10am , put on my black Saints t-shirt and gold earrings and began game-day meal preparations. The spread included Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya (a spin on my Dad’s recipe) and Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins.
A Creole Jambalaya, similar to Paella, generally consists of vegetables, meats, seafood, rice, stock and spices. The base of Jambalaya and most Cajun Creole dishes starts with the holy trinity, which is chopped celery, bell pepper, and onion. There are many variations of the Jambalaya and every Louisiana family has their own way of preparing it. Traditionally, my Dad would make Jambalaya on Mardi Gras Day for family and friends stopping by to visit and watch the parades. I have changed up the recipe a bit over the years to suit my cooking style.
Lizzy M.’s Jambalaya
2 Cups chopped green or red bell pepper
2 Cups chopped celery
1 Cup chopped parsley
1 Cup chopped green onion
1/2 Cup chopped celery tops
3-4 Minced or grated garlic cloves
1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
2 Cups beef stock
1 Large boneless skinless chicken breast
2 Cups uncooked long grain white rice
2 Tbsp thyme
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning or Tony’s Chachere
1 Tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tsp allspice
1 Tsp cayenne pepper (minced fresh or ground)
4-5 pads (slices) butter
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for sautéing
Tabasco to taste
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Start by prepping the holy trinity. Chop 2-3 yellow onions, 1-2 green or red bell peppers, and 3-4 celery stalks. How much you use will depend upon the size of your vegetables. The goal is to make about 2 cups of each vegetable. Chop one cup of parsley and one cup of green onions and set aside. Also, make sure to save the leafy tops of the celery stalks. Chop the celery tops and set aside as well.
In a small sauce or stockpot, heat 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of beef
stock. Use bouillon cubes, broth or stock-whatever you have.
To prepare the chicken, season one large boneless chicken breast with salt,
pepper, garlic, Cajun seasoning or Tony’s Chachere. Heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Place the seasoned side of the chicken down in the skillet. At this time, season the other side and cover skillet. Cook for about 4 minutes or until slightly browned. Flip the chicken and cook the other side ano
ther 4 minutes. Don't worry if it is not fully cooked because it will continue to cook in the oven. Turn the heat off and let the chicken sit in the covered pan until it has cooled.
While waiting for the chicken to cool down, heat a large skillet or pot and lightly coat the surface with extra virgin olive oil. Add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper into the oil as it heats. Once heated, add the celery. Stir to coat the celery with the oil. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper. In this dish, you should season as you go to make sure every layer has plenty of flavor. Next add the yellow onions and pepper. Keep the heat on high and mix well.
Now it is time to season for real! Add 2 tablespoons of thyme and chili powder, 1 of tablespoon
paprika and Cajun seasoning, 1 teaspoon allspice and cayenne pepper (fresh or ground), 3-4 dried bay leaves, and a few dashes of Tabasco. Mix the spices well into the trinity mixture and cook down for about 5-7 minutes. Add 3-4 cloves of minced or grated garlic and lower heat. Cook for another minute and turn off heat. Pour the vegetable mixture into a large, deep casserole dish.
Next, slice one package of Andouille, Kielbasa or smoked sausage into disc or half moon sizes. Reheat the now empty skillet from the vegetables on medium-high heat and then add the sausage. Sprinkle a dash of Cajun seasoning and a few dashes of Tabasco into the cooking sausage. Let the sausage cook for about 5-7 minutes and then add into the casserole dish.
Remove the chicken breast from the covered skillet and dice. Add any remaining liquids from the chicken skillet into the casserole dish as well as the diced chicken. At this time, add 2 cans of diced tomatoes, and the heated chicken/beef stock. Carefully mix all the ingredients in the casserole dish.
Taste the mixture at this time to determine if more spices are needed.
chopped portion of both the parsley and green onions and all of the celery tops.
Finally, add 2 cups of uncooked long grain white rice and mix well
so the rice is evenly distributed throughout the dish. Add 5 pads of
Tightly cover with aluminum foil and cook in preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. Check the casserole half way through cooking time and stir well. The cooking time may vary depending upon your oven, so don’t be afraid to check on it. Once the rice is done, the Jambalaya
is good and ready.
1 Package Jiffy Cornbread Mix
1/3 Cup milk
1 Diced Jalapeno
1 Handful shredded cheddar cheese
12 small cubes of cheddar cheeseDash of chili powder and black pepper
For a jazzy supplement to the Jambalaya, try some cheddar jalapeno corn bread. I simply jazzed up my always on-hand store bought Jiffy cornbread by adding a diced jalapeno, a tablespoon of chili powder, black pepper, and a handful of shredded cheddar cheese. Instead of traditional cornbread for the game, I used my mini-muffin tin to make a perfect snack-sized shape to go perfectly with the Jambalaya. In the muffin tin, I poured half of the cornbread mixture into the cups and then dropped a little cube of cheddar cheese in the middle for each muffin. Then I added the remaining cornbread mixture on top and baked as directed on the package.
Even though my Eagles enthusiast friends and husband were bummed about the Saints’ victory over the Eagles with an ending score of 48-22, it seems that they were thoroughly distracted and cheered
up by my spicy Jambalaya. A cook is always complimented when there are no leftovers! Thank you to my friends for joining us and partaking in one of my favorite dishes of all.
You can take a girl out of New Orleans, but you can never take the New Orleans out of the girl!