New Orleans icon John Besh’s fourth and latest cookbook is a collection of family recipes for the home cook with a hankering for Cajun and Creole spice. With simple, hearty fare, detailed instructions and anecdotes that will make you feel like you’re right there in Louisiana, a hot (or really hot) meal is just a few ingredients away.
In Cajun country, they wouldn’t think of using tomato in their jambalaya. In New Orleans, we do like our tomato, but not too much. We don’t want jambalaya looking like Spanish rice. What’s really important is to not overcook the shrimp. You want them gorgeous and plump. I add them at the very end and try not to stir the pot too often to check on them.
- 1/2 pound andouille or other smoked sausage, chopped
- 1 pound fresh pork sausage, removed from casings
- 1/2 cup bacon fat or oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups white rice
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 1/2 pounds medium wild American shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Salt and pepper
- 2 green onions, chopped
For the jambalaya
Heat a very big, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat and reduce heat to medium. (This lets the pot heat uniformly, preventing hot spots, which are likely to burn.) Brown the andouille and pork sausage in the bacon fat, stirring slowly with a long wooden spoon to build color.
After the sausages have browned, add the onions to the pot and allow them to caramelize, about 15 minutes, to build more flavor. I add the bell peppers late, to save as much of the color as I can. Add celery (I always use the leaves too) and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so that everything in the pot cooks evenly.
Next add the rice, thyme, cayenne, and bay leaves to the pot and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes and stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. After the rice has simmered 15 minutes, fold in the shrimp and green onions. Cover again, turn off the heat, and let everything continue to cook in the hot pot for another 10 minutes.
Fluff the jambalaya with a fork and serve!