Sunday, November 8, 2015

Two-Two, Two Weeks in One

I am writing first about jambalaya and I would like to say that we had jambalaya for dinner last week, but we didn’t.

We had jambalaya for dinner at M.’s house a few weeks ago.

I am catching up on posts and this post includes two recipes.  First, one for jambalaya and, following that, the Pasta with Pumpkin Ricotta dish A. served the following week.  A. used homemade ricotta, the Smitten Kitchen recipe.

First, the Creole favorite.

We all know there are many French influences in Louisiana and jambalaya is no exception.  The word 'jambalaya' comes from the Provençal word ‘jambalaia’ meaning a few things, including a mixture and a pilau (pilaf) of rice.

Creole jambalaya was created by the Spanish in an attempt to replicate paella in the strange new land known as America.  The cost of importing saffron required creativity by the Spaniards who substituted tomatoes.  Eventually, other Caribbean spices were introduced and the dish we now know as Red Jambalaya soon became a favorite in New Orleans and beyond.

Like in M.’s kitchen.

This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated.  M., who is a self-described Cooks Illustrated junkie, followed the recipe pretty closely, except she substituted leftover stewed chicken for the chicken thighs and fresh Andouille for the smoked variety.  Grated lemon rind - and  a bit of lemon juice finished the dish off nicely.  An extra “kick” was introduced compliments of “Slap Ya Mama” cajan spice.

Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya
By:  Cooks Illustrated

1 1/2 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 oz of smoked Andouille sausage, sliced 1/4” thick
1 onion chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 stalk of celery, minced
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 cups rice
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can dice tomatoes, 1/4 cup of juice reserved
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (8 oz) bottle clam juice
2 bay leaves
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking.   Place chicken thighs skin side down in pot and cook until well browned, about 7 minutes.  Flip chicken to cook until lightly browned.  Transfer to a plate and remove and discard skin.  Tent loosely with foil.    Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat, add sausage and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until browned, about 3 minutes.  Remove and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  

Heat the fat left in the pan and add the onion, bell pepper and celery and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.   Add rice, 1 teaspoon salt, thyme and cayenne and cook, stirring often until rice is coated.  Stir in tomatoes with reserved juice, chicken brown, clam juice, bay leaves and browned sausage.  Place chicken on rice mixture and bring to a boils.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir once, keeping chicken on top.  Cover and continue to simmer until chicken is tender and cooked, about 10 minutes longer).  Transfer chicken to a clean plate and set aside.  Scatter shrimp over rice, cover and continue to cook until rice is fully tender and shrimp are opaque and cooked through.  Meanwhile, shred the chicken.  When shrimp are cooked, remove pot from heat, discard the bay leaves, stir in parsley and shredded chicken and serve immediately.

Now for the Penne and Pumpkin Ricotta dish that A. just invented in her kitchen the evening of our gathering.  She. Amazes. Me. I recorded her telling us how she made it and below is the transcription of that recording (minus some clarifying questions from her grateful guests).

Penne and Pumpkin Ricotta
By:  A.
"I cut up an onion and sautéed it in a little butter and olive oil until it was pretty soft  -- not spongy --and then I sliced up a bunch of baby bella mushrooms and threw those in with the onion until they were sautéed and cripsy....I also threw in some slice garlicd too. Then I put in a little pinch of herbs de Provence.  I took the onions and mushrooms out of the pan. Then, I took two links of Italian chicken sausage -- from the Coop -- and one link of buffalo chicken sausage and took them out of the casings, mushed and broke them up and cooked them in the same pan as the onions and mushrooms.  After that, I took cooked pasta and put that in the baking dish, mixed in the sausage, mushrooms and onions and a bunch of chopped, fresh sage.  Then I added the homemade ricotta and a small can of pumpkin -- not the whole can because it looked like it would be too much -- and blobbed them around and swirled them around to mix together, but not to fully incorporate  I had some leftover pumpkin rolls and wizzed them in the food processor and toasted the crumbs in a pan.  Then I put the crumbs, grated fontina, some Parmesan cheese -- whatever I had leftover -- on top of the penne and baked at 350 degrees until heated through. And that's how I made it!" 

I tried to upload the recording but blogger didn't like that at all for some reason.

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