Late one evening a traveling gentleman stopped by a New Orleans inn which had little food remaining from the evening meal. The traveler instructed the cook, "Jean, balayez!" or "Jean, sweep something together!" in the local dialect. The guest pronounced the resulting hodge-podge dish as "Jean balayez."
Drink a little (or a lot) hurricane or sazerac cocktail and you start slurring your words... Jean balayez becomes JAMBALAYA!
That's probably not true, but makes a great story.
Anytime is a great time for Jambalaya but especially around Fat Tuesday and the Mardi Gras season. May be the penultimate New Orleans dish. And BTW, about as easy as could be. Double the recipe and you have dinner again in a month! Freezes beautifully.
So... if you want to double up and freeze a casserole for later (or divide in half for a smaller meal now and one for later), this freezes perfect. Here's a few tips
First, be sure the actual baking dish is freezer to oven safe. Those ubiquitous Pyrex brand clear dishes work best. You can also use a Foil disposable pan to freeze and bake, then transfer into a presentation dish to serve.
Second, always best to thaw the casserole in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before baking. You can bake a frozen casserole right from the freezer. But the edges will be baked more crispy than the center by the time it is finished. To go straight from freezer to oven to table, just increase the baking time by 30 minutes. But again, you will have better results if you plan ahead and thaw the meal as much as possible. Leaving the casserole out on the counter for 2 hours (covered with the foil) also helps. The casserole will not be thawed completely but will cook more evenly. If you do this, only cook for another 20 minutes. As usual, but even more so, keep an eye on the dish as it cooks. Once the liquid is bubbling and the top is crispy crunchy, the dish is done no matter how much time you cook.
Third, 60 days... Two Months. NO MORE... Prepare and freeze, but date the dish. Cook and serve within 60 days for best results. Any longer and you will have freezer burn and the dish will start to turn on you. Personally, I am a 30 day guy,but I have baked these right at 60 days and it was fine.
OK.. Read over the recipe. The freezing tips are in italics. Enjoy and let me know what you think of this rather unique take on a meatloaf!!
This recipe is one that I adapted from one I learned during my visit to the New Orleans School of Cooking. By far, it was the most popular of the main course recipes I learned during my trips to New Orleans. Easy Peasy, so lets get to it.
Mise en Place (first, assemble your ingredients)
1/2 cup oil (divided)
2 pounds meat from a Rotisserie Chicken boned, cut into 1 inch cubes..
2 pounds Andouille Sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices
......Save 1/2 pound to grill and use as accents
4 cups Onion
2 cups Green Pepper (I had a yellow as well)
2 cups Celery
3 Tablespoons Garlic
5 cups Chicken Stock
4 cups Long Grained Rice
1/4 cup Cajun Spices
1/2 cup Green onion
2 cups tomatoes (optional)
- Optional - For brown Jambalaya, add heaping tablespoon of Brown Sugar to your roux just before adding vegetables (see next step), for red, add Paprika for color
- In a large stock pot , make a roux with equal parts 1/4 cup oil and flour. It is VERY important to start with a clean pan. It must be free of food particles to make a successful roux. Add vegetables and later garlic to roux and stir continuously until vegetables reach desired tenderness.
- Add Chicken and sausage to vegetables, continue to stir for about 5 minutes.
- Gradually stir in stock and Cajun seasonings. Bring to boil
- For red Jambalaya, add 1/4 cup paprika and you can substitute 1/2 the stock for 1/2 tomato juice or V-8 juice.
- Add rice, DO NOT STIR, but push gently on rice to get it under liquid and return to boil
- Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes. DO NOT OPEN POT, DO NOT STIR.
- While the pot is cooking, slice 1/2 pound Andouille Sausage and fry in sauce pan till pretty char marks appear.
- After 25 minutes, turn rice from top to bottom, mix meat and rice evenly. There may be some burnt bits on the bottom, but that is FILLED with flavor, and should be mixed in as well/
- Dish it up, add sausage and green onions as accent.
- Have Hot sauce and additional seasonings available for people who want to taste the Cajun experience to their fullest.
- At this stage, I froze a smaller casserole dish filled with the cooked Jambalaya. ... cover the freezer casserole with Aluminum Foil, pushing the foil down so there is as little air between top of casserole and the foil as possible (prevents freezer burn). Pop in the freezer. When you want to cook this, just transfer to the refrigerator 24-48 hours before you plan to thaw and cook. If you do not have the time to thaw in the refrigerator, thaw in the microwave slowly. This dish needs to be completely thawed before re-cooking. IMPORTANT... I add another 1/2 cup of Chicken Stock to the dish just before baking to insure moist and even cooking. One more IMPORTANT... Do not leave in the freezer longer than 30 days or the rice will get a mushy texture.
- Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the good times roll) and ENJOY!
A list of something NEW worthy of being shown off at a neighborhood BYODish (Bring Your Own Dish) Party, a Family special occasion dinner, Any Big Holiday Gathering or of course that glorious day when you bring a dish to share with your Church family...
Ages ago, literally almost a half century ago I was listening to our pastor talking about a PotLuck Dinner. It happened to be scheduled around a church work day when we were expected to weed, polish and do general cleaning and maintenance around the church (you know, back in the day when there were no no-wax floors and church pews smelled of Old English furniture polish). I am of course paraphrasing, but as I recall the pastor said,
"A potluck, like a church requires work. At a potluck everyone is expected to contribute.. At a church no one should come empty handed and no one should leave unfed".I will confess that in my youth I brought more store bought plastic spoons and forks than I ever brought covered dishes and crock pots of fresh made love and caring delights. But now that I have become a hobbyist cook, I occasionally am reminded of those days and people from my youth. I reminded and I do wish that I could drop a dish of some new creation on those old tables at my fondly remembered Liberty Baptist Church. Tables covered with newspapers and loaded with God's bounty prepared with love and caring... Enjoy
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