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Monday, September 05, 2005

Paper Chef #10: Born on the Bayou

For this weekend's special NOLA-themed Paper Chef event, I was inspired by Janine, a South Louisiana Cajun lady of my online acquaintance, who put together something very similar in her crock-pot for a Mardi Gras gathering of people from the group (at which I was sadly not present) and posted her guidelines to the group's ongoing recipe thread. It was the holy Louisiana food trinity of Onions-Celery-Sweet Peppers with sausage and shrimp swimming in a sea of spicy tomato and made my mouth water just reading it.

Those of us on this group have seen the storm through her eyes ... from her Friday determination to stay put ("we can ride out a Cat 3 here"), her Saturday change of mind and calm organizing of the family forces (elderly parents to tiny grandson), and the aftermath. Janine lives in Terrebonne Parish, which was spared the brunt of the storm (she was back in her bayou house by Tuesday) and which is now home to a number of displaced people. She is unsure that her oil-related job will continue to exist, but her attitude is "in that case I'll have more time to help out".

I must admit my terrible ignorance of Creole and Cajun cooking and tell you that I don't know what kind of dish it is. [Edited to add: I have since learned, through reading other entries, that it's a very jambalaya-like object.] And I have played with it myself, in the best improv cook tradition, by adding the green beans and summer squash that insisted on coming home with me from the farmer's market, and the beer required by the challenge.

So in her honor I will call it ...

Janine's Creole Stuff
[Edited: Jambalaya a la Janine would also work]



1 lb or more sausage links
(You can use any kind you like. I used Calabrese from Fatted Calf because they were out of Andouille.)
1-2 medium yellow onions, chopped
5-6 celery sticks, chopped, leaves included
4-5 sweet bell peppers, diced

Look at these peppers I got at the market! Aren't they beeyootiful?

Late Summer Rainbow Peppers

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 10-14 oz can tomatoes-and-chiles (Rotel or similar)

Spices to taste: salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, rosemary, oregano

A couple of good slices off a lemon

Shrimp (add at end ... I used a 1 lb bag frozen pre-cooked, because that is what I could get, but uncooked would be better)

Charlotte's Variations:

1 bottle beer (I used a local brand ... Pyramid Brewing IPA)
1 lb green beans, topped, tailed, and snapped into eating-size pieces
1 lb baby yellow zucchini, cut in rounds
1 cup (8 oz) long-grain rice

If you are using a crockpot, like Janine does:Cook the sausage and cut it up first. Then dump the tomatoes and beer in. Add the spices and the aromatic veggies, then put the cooked sausage in. Simmer till it's pretty much done. The green beans/squash/shrimp go in at the end.

I do own a crock-pot but didn't want to haul it out. So I used my Dutch oven instead:

Cut sausage in pieces and saute with onions, then add celery and peppers. Saute till meat is browned and onion/celery is soft.

aromatics and sausage

Add spices and stir for 1 minute to "toast".

Add squash, tomatoes, and beer. Reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally.

After about an hour (and adding the green beans) of simmering uncovered, it looked "too soupy" to me, although it smelled and tasted great.

getting ready

Since I was planning to serve it over rice in the Creole style (okay, I grew up in California rice country and I don't really need an excuse to eat rice, but it is traditional), I got the rice out of the cupboard, threw it in, gave it a big stir, and let it cook covered for 20 minutes.

At the end I threw the shrimp in, covered the pot, and turned off the heat. I fished the lemon slices out and served it forth in a shallow bowl:

Allez manger

The mix of colors, textures, and flavors was just wonderful.

This makes a number of hearty servings, so make some up while you and your family/friends empty out your change jars and roll up those pennies to give to the Red Cross or some reputable charity.

Comments:
Hi Charlotte, I've been waiting for everybody's Paper Chef #10 entries to try out. This looks good for the leftovers from my homemade sausage attempt. Cheers!
 
Wow - what beautiful colors! Great pics.
 
Charlotte,

I'm curious how that (apparently) large quatity of bell peppers affected the flavor. Did they disolve into an undertone or was it clearly a pepper dish?
 
Hi Kevin, since I put a large quantity of hot-pepper-spice in, the sweet peppers were definitely deep, deep background.

Next time (and this was good enough that there will be a next time ...) I'm going to lay off the spice a bit and see if those sweet things shine.
 
Daaaang, yer a wicked badass.

Keep it up Charlotte, you should be very proud of yourself.

Biggles
www.meathenge.com
 
Oooh, that looks so good. And our local truck farmer has good deals on peppers now.
 
This does look wonderful.
 
Green beans and squash in Jambalaya ?! Y'all ain't from around here, are you ? ;->

Sorry, couldn't resist - my "inner Southerner" just popped up for a moment. I fed him a praline and he went away happy...

Actually, I'm sure it was good, and those peppers certainly were nice lookin' (I much prefer yellow and red bell peppers to green, when I use them at all). You might also try some leftover cooked chicken or turkey with some of that sausage - it's a good combo in Jambalaya.
 
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