Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jambalaya, Creole style.

HELLO! Had you thought I'd fallen off the world? Well...sort of. Not really. Just crazy with work, moving, travel, kickboxing...I just haven't been cooking lately. BUT...cold weather has hit...and I got a great recipe via email that I just HAD to mess with.

It's Jambalaya time!

History: This is typically a one pot dish, essentially the Louisiana Creole version of Paella. There are tons of stories about where the name came from, but the one I personally prescribe to (because it has the most solid basis) is that "jambalaya" comes from the Proven├žal word "jambalaia," meaning a mish-mash or mixup, and also meaning a pilau (pilaf) of rice.

There are three kinds--Creole "red" jambalaya which contains tomatoes, "Cajun jambalaya" which does not contain tomatoes (the brown color in a cajun jambalaya comes from the browning of the meat first in the pan, then sauteing the "trinity" in their drippings), and "quick"...which is everything else, and is typically never done here in Louisiana. Except here, in this house..because hey, we're watching calories and stuff, and we don't have all day!

So this would be a "quick creole" jambalaya, because I love tomatoes, therefore they go in my jambalaya. And they've got dem der' "vittamen" things. ;P

So--why did I choose this recipe? Jambalaya's vary greatly depending on who's cooking them--you can literally put almost anything into one. Which means you COULD end up with a lot of fat. And the veggies get cooked down in typically quite a bit of oil & butter--which is part of the reason I love regular jambalaya, but my digestive system HATES it. And they're typically made with white rice--yummy indeed, but no real health value. And while it's served year-round here, it's easily a very hearty food that can be a great alternative for you northerners who actually SEE snow, rather than the constant barrage of chili, soups, and holiday leftovers (ACTUALLY, you could easily use leftover chicken or turkey in this dish.) We CAN make this a healthy, flavorful, filling & deelish winter-time meal.

So...let's get started, shall we?

Shopping List:
-1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast tenders
-1 pkg (~14oz) lean turkey smoked sausage
-1 can (~1 1/2c) seasoned pinto beans (if can can find them--getting pre-seasoned beans adds to the ease of making this dish. Progresso makes Seasoned pinto beans, and I used Glory New Orleans Style Red Beans in a can just for the sake of trying them out. This doesn't add anything in the way of calories or fat--just extra seasoning. Yum for flavor.)
**I should also mention here that traditional jambalayas don't have beans in them. This is apparently a common misconception by non-Louisianians of the "Zatarains" Generation that all cajun food is packed with beans. However, I chose to leave them in this recipe, because, as stated above--jambalaya is a mish-mash, a mix of whatever's handy. And beans are a good way to bulk up this meal to add extra servings, and it adds additional nutritional value. So, as Gus Portokalos says, 'there you go'.**
-(2) 14oz cans of seasoned stewed tomatoes (the recipe I received called for "cajun style stewed tomatoes"...which I have NEVER seen in my life. So I bought one can of Mexican style, and one can of Italian style, since cajun flavors call from both of those arenas, and I just let them fight it out in the pot. The winner was FLAVOR.)
-2 tbsp EVOO
-1 small to medium onion, chopped
-1 cup celery, chopped
-1 bell pepper, chopped
-3 tbsp tomato paste
-2 tbsp minced garlic
-1 tbsp chopped parsley
-2 tsp Tobasco sauce (or other hot sauce, if you prefer. I use Crystal.)
-2 tsp cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chacheres Lite...all the flavor, but lower sodium--there's plenty of salt in the sausage and the canned tomatoes already.)
-2 tsp black pepper
-1/2 c water
-5-6 c cooked barley or brown rice (I recommend quick barley, just's quick. Brown rice takes a lot of prep and cook time. But both barley & brown rice have excellent health benefits. 1 1/2 - 2 cups of dry quick barley will produce the 6 c of "rice" you need.

(I'm not including directions for cooking rice/barley here....but you should probably start that process first.) ;)
In a large pot (cast iron if you have it, regular if you don't) spray the bottom with a bit of Pam and set to medium-high heat. Drop in chicken tenders and season lightly with cajun seasoning, cook until done.
While that's cooking, slice your turkey sausage into 1/2" slices. When the chicken's done, remove it and toss the sausage slices into the pot. Slice the chicken into bite-size pieces. When the sausage is browned (~5 minutes), remove it from the pot. Set the meats aside for now.
Add the olive oil to the pot, the saute the onion, bell pepper & celery until it begins to soften.
Add the garlic, stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, hot sauce, cajun seasoning, pepper, & water. Cover and simmer for ~20 minutes.
Stir in the pinto beans and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
Add the meats & rice to the pot, stir well, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste.

Makes (8) 1 to 1 1/2 cup servings.

Big Bowl of YUM.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 379.2
Total Fat 9.1 g
Saturated Fat 2.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.7 g
Cholesterol 55.3 mg
Sodium 1,147.7 mg
Potassium 510.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 50.9 g
Dietary Fiber 7.9 g
Sugars 3.5 g
Protein 23.3 g
Vitamin A 13.4 %
Vitamin B-12 2.7 %
Vitamin B-6 29.0 %
Vitamin C 42.4 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 3.0 %
Calcium 7.2 %
Copper 14.7 %
Folate 10.5 %
Iron 20.6 %
Magnesium 14.6 %
Manganese 28.3 %
Niacin 41.2 %
Pantothenic Acid 7.4 %
Phosphorus 18.2 %
Riboflavin 9.5 %
Selenium 27.0 %
Thiamin 13.0 %
Zinc 10.5 %