Saturday, February 18, 2012

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

As far as St. Louisans are concerned, today is highlight of Mardi Gras.  It marks the annual River City Grand Parade in Soulard, and my husband and I have been fortunate to be a part of it for the last 2 years thanks to our friend, Lern, at KSHE 95. 
In fact, St. Louis has the 2nd largest Mardi Gras celebration in the nation!  And I’m pretty sure these people (the Rhythmic Krewe of Belvakis) are our neighbors… literally.
In the spirit of the “holiday”, I decided to make my jambalaya recipe.  Since we never know when the Mardi Gras festivities will end, I made this meal last night.  Much like my chili recipe, this makes a large quantity of food.  Also like my chili, this is a fairly mild recipe, but you can make it spicier if your heart desires.
*1 can red (kidney beans)
*1 can black beans
*1 can diced tomatoes (optional)
*1 can crushed tomatoes
*2 cups rice
*¼ cup Franks hot sauce
* 1 lb. of chicken
*2 sticks of Johnsonville Andouille sausage (optional)
*½ Hillshire Farms smoked sausage (combination of beef, pork and turkey)
*½ green pepper, julienned
*Minced onion flakes
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning (optional)
Cut your chicken into chunks and cook in a large, deep skillet with the green peppers.
In a separate large pot, combine the beans, tomatoes, hot sauce, minced onion, and salt and pepper.  Bring the vegetables to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer.
Slice the sausage and add to the skillet when the chicken has almost cooked completely through.  Cook this for approx. 5 more minutes on medium heat before adding to the vegetables.
In a slightly smaller pot, cook the rice according to the instructions on the box.  When the rice is tender and fluffy, add it to the vegetables, and simmer for at least 5 minutes to allow the flavors time to combine.  (If you want to make the dish a bit spicier, add cup hot sauce at a time.)
You should wind up with something that looks like this:
To make a healthier version, you can rinse the beans before cooking them, rinse the starch off the rice before you boil it, and use a combination of white and brown rice.  (And if you want to make your jambalaya a bit more traditional, don’t combine your rice with the meat and veggies.  Serve the meat and veggies on top of the rice instead.)  You can also serve this meal with Jiffy cornbread.
If you’d like a complimentary Cajun dessert, I recommend beignets, crepes suzette, bananas foster, cherries jubilee, or bread pudding.  Better yet, save your dessert recipe for a special post-Mardi Gras breakfast!

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