Now, I don’t know where you go for good Cajun and Creole recipes, but my first (and last) source is Chuck Taggart’s fabulous Gumbo Pages. Chuck’s site covers a whole lot more than just food. It’s a true mélange of everything that’s wonderful about the culture of New Orleans and the surrounding area — recipes, dining recommendations, cocktails, music, and so much more.
A native New Orleanian, Chuck saved our collective asses at Tales of the Cocktail last year: You pretty much couldn’t leave the Monteleone without running into a cocktail blogger clutching a printout of Chuck’s French Quarter restaurant recommendations; it was the most-viewed page on the Tales Blog, gathering more hits than all the other pages put together. Uh-huh.
But back to the food. Over the years — even before we’d had the pleasure to make his acquaintance — we’ve used Chuck’s recipes for everything from turkey gumbo to creole hot sausage to dirty rice, all with uniformly excellent results.
For our Mardi Gras celebration, we made Dee Gautreau’s World Championship Jambalaya. Because we just don’t feel complete without pork, we took the liberty of adding andouille sausage. (A quick chat with Chuck revealed that sausage was likely in the original, but somehow disappeared from the printed recipe.)
No offense meant to the original recipe, but we’ve made a few minor tweaks to make things a little clearer. I’m sure any Louisiana native would know exactly what Dee meant, but there’s a fair bit of ambiguity there for anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to grow up watching jambalaya being made on a regular basis. You’ll see in the photos that I’ve halved the recipe; it still made four exceptionally generous servings.
- adapted from Gumbo Pages
3-to-4 pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces (with neck, back, and wingtips reserved)
6-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup cooking oil
3/4 pound andouille sausage, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 medium white onions, chopped
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste*
2-1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Red pepper to taste*
2 tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce (such as Crystal)
3 cups uncooked long-grain rice
Place the chicken neck, back, and wingtips in a saucepan with 6-1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, while prepping the rest of the jambalaya.
Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chicken parts, skin side down. Fry, without disturbing the chicken, until the skin is a nice golden brown, then turn to brown the other sides equally well. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside in a warm place near the stove.
Pour off the oil, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped onions and cook until golden brown, adding a little water if necessary to keep sticking to a minimum. Add the andouille and saute until the fat begins to render. Return the chicken to the pan with the sausage and onions.
Remove the neck, back, and wingtips from the quick broth. Measure the remaining liquid in a heatproof measuring cup, add enough water to make 6 cups, and add this liquid to the sausage/chicken pan. Note the liquid level in the pan; this will be important later.
Add the remaining ingredients except the rice to the pot, and simmer, well covered, until the chicken is cooked through (10 to 15 minutes). Check the liquid level, and add water to return it to the same point it was before simmering, if necessary. Bring back to a rolling boil, and add the rice. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook, uncovered and without stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the water level is below the rice. Turn the rice (see notes below), reduce heat to low, and cover with a tight-fitting lid; cook for 15 minutes until the rice is tender. Turn the rice again, turn off the heat, and let the rice steam on the warm burner for 10 minutes more.
* The amount of salt and red pepper needed will depend on the age and strength of your spice, as well as the seasoning in your andouille. I used 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper for a medium-hot result.
Chuck’s jambalaya notes:
- This recipe produces a brown-style jambalaya rather than the red tomato-based jambalayas you see in New Orleans.
- Jambalaya should never be stirred. Turn, rather than stir, to prevent the grains of rice from breaking up, scooping from the bottom of the pot.