New Orleans style holidays often begin with Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a good dish when you are “cooking big.”

Jambalaya is a good dish when you are “cooking big.”

If you are going to cook up some jambalaya, the very best place to start is with a recipe that has the right “flavor.”

By that I mean that is has the correct heritage to it, as this one does. When I went searching for a good jambalaya recipe, I went to my New Orleans friend, Celeste Bassich Meunier. Celeste and her husband, Fred, moved here from The Big Easy 15 years ago. As if that were not a strong enough lineage for this dish, Celeste actually got the recipe from her grandmother, Detta Bassich.

Celeste told me she likes to prepare this jambalaya at holidays and when she’s “cooking big.” This was really delicious, so I will be preparing this again!

Celeste Bassich Meunier’s Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

2 Tablespoons butter

1 pound smoked pure pork sausage

1 large bell pepper

3 cups chicken breast (cut into bite-size pieces)

2 onions

2 cloves garlic

2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce

1 can stewed whole tomatoes (Rotel) or diced tomatoes

2 cups raw rice

1/2 bunch green onions

1/2 tsp. salt,

1 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp.(or to taste) cayenne pepper

water or chicken stock

Cook in heavy bottom pot or better yet, cast iron pot. Brown chicken in pot with melted butter. Remove chicken. Chop onions and bell pepper. Chop garlic finely. Brown onions, bell pepper and the garlic in the pot where the chicken was cooked in the butter.

Add tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes. Simmer 15 minutes.

Add chicken and sausage, cut into bite size pieces. Cook until chicken is cooked through and tender. Add rice and chopped green onions along with the salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir ingredients thoroughly.

Add enough water to cover ingredients by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes, or until rice is tender. Never stir rice once it has been covered and is cooking on low heat, just turn from bottom to top 2 or 3 times total.

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