Jambalaya Basic w/ Q-view

Discussion in 'Nose to Tail' started by foamheart, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Jambalaya Basics

    I am sure this will be a short explanation. Jambalaya is the opposite of gumbo. Gumbo is soup over rice, jambalaya is the soup cooked into the rice. You use the same ingredients, you just decide if you have clean plates to eat on or clean bowls.

    Jambalaya does not normally involve seafood, because in the rice cooking stage due to the duration of the cooking cycle the seafood becomes tuff. Occasionally you’ll see someone’s shrimp and tomato jambalaya but I consider it more a specialty type dish. So meat is primary objective. That being said due to the cooking time with the rice again, you can see why beef for the most part would not work well unless you like boiled tuff meat.

    That leaves us with the tender and more flavorful selections mostly fowl and pork. In the olden days in Louisiana being the good Catholic state that it is, the average family consisted of 7, I guess they that’s why we were so late getting TV stations here. It wasn’t unusual for families to consist of 12 to 14 though. Feeding a family to them though was never a bother as rice was cheap, and if a friend was invited to stay for supper as was very common, the serving size of the meat diminished. But there was still meat on every plate. Like gumbo the rice was your filler, your binding agent upon which everything else was just flavorings. The Cajun neighbors actually ate more bought less for 7 kids than Mom did for 2. Everyone got some meat and everyone got rice. Then you added what you had grown for flavor modifiers. Onions, garlic, tomatoes (again if you are a Yankee), you are building a meal on what you have to feed everyone some of it all. BTW a Yankee is anyone that lives north of Interstate 10.

    Today the town I went to school in is the Jambalaya Capitol, and the yearly cook-offs finally got so exotic that they had to remove all the options and you now have to cook for judging with only what you are  given, nothing more. I have my copy of last years rules if anyone would like to see it, /PM me and we will see what we can do about getting you a copy. (it’s a pain with the site problems right now, as well as wasted server space).

    The rice…… whereas gumbo should be served with medium grain rice due to the gluten content holding the rice together, jambalaya is make with long grain rice to encourage separation. Any meal can use any rice, I assure you the little old ladies of long ago didn’t have two types of rice laying around, they got 25 or 50 lbs sacks and like flour sacks back then, that’s where the fancy bloomers came from. But today we have the ability to travel to the moon and drive Corvettes so two bags of rice is acceptable. There are also two trains of thought on rice in jambalaya, stickie and moist or separated and dry. I prefer the first although may swear by the later.

    Jambalaya is the one food that although cooked in many pots, really requires cast iron in a big way to get right. Cast iron pots are willed in families here or they used to be. I have 2 each 30 gallon, I believe in the shed I have not cleaned out since Katrina, across the road. I am sure they are sitting out there all rusted which is a shame. But you don’t need a 30 gallon pot to cook, a #14 dutch oven will feed a small crowd or a whole patrol of Boy Scouts, or at home I use a #8 for nearly all my usual needs. You can use any pot, if you are skilled enough. Although I assume if you are reading this, it might be a few cooking’s away for that. You also need a canoe paddle or a shovel for the big pots where you need to turn the rice but that is a different type of jambalaya cooking. Here you’ll need a good seasoned cast iron pot with a lid. In the house I use a metal slotted spoon for my stirring.

    Your next decision is…… if you want your rabbit food in your jambalaya. It’s pretty funny listening to the old men discuss what goes in a jambalaya. The purists say meat rice garlic onions and spice. The gourmets (usually the younger crowd looking for their niche) bell peppers, Mushrooms, parsley, green onions, celery, squash, tomatoes, soups, stocks, etc etc etc… It’s all in what you want. AND it’s about who you are cooking for. These discussions can get pretty heated, pretty fast, especially at competition


    Your normal sides are of course French bread dripping garlic butter but unlike the potato salad used with gumbo, Jambalaya nearly always comes with slaw or the city folks do a tossed green salad now.

    Lets start with basics. I was going to cook a smoked chicken gumbo for supper, but I think I will change to a pork jambalaya. Remember it’s all about impregnating that rice with flavor and of course I cheat.

    Remember like gumbo there is no one definitive Jambalaya. Look at the difference in these two and I assure you any coonass would know and appreciate either.



    My basic Jambalaya recipe

    Meat – Normally pork, fowl, or game.

    Sausage - Tasso and Andouille are nearly never used in Jambalaya, I assume because they take a long boil to do their magic. A good country smoked sausage is normal, when out of state Kielbasa is my sausage of choice.

    Bacon grease – it’s about as much flavor as possible in the least amount of time.

    Onions – I prefer white, but yellow will do. Sautee translucent

    Garlic – Minced, to be browned or caramelized but NOT burned

    Rice – here as with the gumbo it’s always the same ratio, 2 parts cool water to 1 part rice. Long grain rice water does need a splash more water, but no more.

    Water – *see rice* Clear cool water, water, water………..

    Salt & Pepper – Most use red pepper, New Orleans being a port town helped the Cajun acquire food stuffs but most were for trade or sale for profit, the normal Cajuns still used what they grew. Cayenne. Oh and Jalapeños is for tourists or smokers.

    If you can wait till tonight, I’ll try and be more specific and add in some Q-view.

    Did I mention that there is no one definitive way to cook a Jambalaya?
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
    snorkelinggirl likes this.
  2. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Brilliant ,I love it. Down at the fishing shack so I pad only,will get it in full tomorrow.
    I love traditional cooking that's authentic & evolving.
    Cant wait for the rest of it.
  3. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here's the Q-View, pretty intensive, might want to get a drink and get comfortable.

    Here is a Jambalaya in its most primitive state. Note: That fine lookin bacon!

    Cast Iron #8 pot, I couldn't live without it!

    Fry the bacon to season the pan as well as get that wonderful grease to cook with.

    Pork tenderloin, cleaned and silverskin removed, Cut up local sausage that is sooooooo good!

    I came back to explain that with jambalaya its best to always cook raw meats, you need to caramelize that protein. If you don't you get a white rice jambalaya, and your friend will talk about it behind your back.

    heat on high, smoke rising because its bacon grease, eneter the pork to get that sweet caramel color, this is what make the jambalaya that pretty brown color.

    Sausage, I put mine in after the meat is browned because I don't like dry sausage with crunchie side. My Pop does his before the meat to get that grease taste and more color. Its all what you like.

    Here is the pot full over that brown delicious crispy love. next we'll add the onions. Onions are great to bring up that flavor. I learned in school that onions and garlic's cell structure is square and jagged all other cells are rounded. I don't know if it helps scour the pan of all that good stuff, but I know it works.

    Note that the veggies are "chopped", Jambalaya is normally cooked by men. I like in my Jambalaya some celery and green onion tops. But as noted above, that is just me.

    Look at that pretty brown color those onions have picked up. Now adding the garlic to caramelize also.

    When the veggies are all happy happy and in the position to share all that sweet goodness, we add back the meat and the juiced that accumulates in the plate they were sitting in.

    Now its water time, Rice is two to one ratio, but add a extra splash for the long grain rice as well as what's coming up next. I add here also cayenne and thyme and the secret ingredient/crutch/cheat.

    Shhhhhh......... this is my cheat. Roosters just don't have the flavor of an old hen, but they cook much faster and tenderer. So I sneak in a l mood modifier to balance out that taste.

    Put on the lid. get the vapors sneaking out the sides, reduce the heat to lowest. Let simmer for 10 to 15 mins. This relaxes the meats and marries all those flavors that you are wanting in your rice..... Rice? Oh no we forgot the rice. LOL

    After the simmer, heat up, add the rice, stir it up.

    Re-Lid, and when the steam os puffing out, turn the heat as low as it will go.

    Low and slow for the win!

    Then while waiting you can watch the game, clean up your mess or.......

    Check your supply of sweet flavored stuff and make a drink, you deserve it!

    Peel a fresh pineapple, chop up the skin, add a little Vodka and start a soak

    Here is your finial result. tender meats, perfect rice, excellent taste.

    Bonus question, what did I forget? That's right no salt. When using chicken flavored crystals they have a lot of salt, so instead of adding too much, I'll let everyone do their own.

    That is step by step, while watching the football game! remember its like Gumbo or BBQ they are all different, you work the pot with what you cook and you'll enjoy what comes out. You can't mess up. If its slightly burns on the bottom its called "Groton" and in Cajun that means, 'the good shit on the bottom'.

    Appreciate you stopping by and checking it out.

    Its easy, its good, its flexible, and ya can't mess up!

    There are lots of recipes for Jambalaya here and on the net. I hope you find something here that helps you or gets you to try making one.

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
    venture likes this.
  4. Well He** Foam.  I always thought you a man of few words.  Are you SURE you didn't leave anything out?  I mean REALLY sure? [​IMG]   As usual GREAT post.  GREAT tutorial.  Thanks for posting. Saved for the "to do list".  Keep providing us with the great recipes and how to's.

  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I hope you divulged "ALL" your secrets..(or most of 'em anyway)...   'cause I'm telling everyone, that eats this concoction, it's your best......  [​IMG]....

    Copied and ready to manufacture.....  thanks Kevin...... 

  6. flyboys

    flyboys Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks Foamheart, great post, great pics, and awesome info! Having a family of 8, I really appreciate it and am going to look more into it to try it. However, I'm a little north of I 10 though.
  7. bdskelly

    bdskelly Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Outstanding cook Kevin.  I'll be over in the mooring to try the pineapple. I'm a big fan of pineapple. ….Too bad you soaked in vodka. I'll overlook it. (snort) LOL
  8. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Its like all my cooks Danny. You've got to enjoy cooking it. You've got to have fun.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  9. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It would have been better with some special hard neck garlic in it. But next year I can try one with the good stuff.

    Thanks Dave, It did turn out pretty dang tastee! AND my team won!
  10. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I talk in reference to was instead of what is. Now with the chemical plants and the offshore hydrocarbons, Louisiana is like a melting pot of ethnic cooking. 

    When I was a kid, they still cooked seafood every Friday, and everyday during lent in the public schools for religious purposes.

    LOL.... as for I-10 you ever see how close it runs to the coast?

    All Cajun meals are meant for a small family (chuckles), gumbo, jambalaya, ettouffee, red beans, white beans, sauce piquant, etc. etc..... and they are all rice based. No one ever went hungry. Heck we eat chili on rice.....LOL but NO beans in it!
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  11. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Foam,

    Your post was an absolute delight to read! I had planned to put River Road Recipes on my Christmas list for this year, but after reading your Jambalaya and Gumbo posts, I can't imagine a better tutorial on Cajun cooking than what you have written!

    Thanks so much for sharing!!
  12. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There is about 4 or 5 "River Roads Cookbooks" now published. I still use mine, I think I have I, II, and III. (I lied I have IV and 'the best of' also) Let me also suggest "Louisiana Tigerbait", its recipes are from LSU alum. I have had mine a long time. LOL.. I had to look, mine is from the second printing, 1977. It is my most referenced book. Everyone likes it.

    Also there is a great cookbook From "Mike Andersons" , Ex LSU football player, he cooks good food. 

    On of my neighbors was John Folses brother, but most of John's recipes are available online from his site or thru his CIA at the university.

    What I have found is each chef has his signature ingredient and maybe a specialty dish. Like K-Paul, he likes to cook with cream and his signature is blacked dishes. His cookbook is outstanding also. He has a cheesy sticky chicken with jalpenos.......

    River Roads is a good cookbook, other than some of those no longer available, RR was my Mom's favorite.

    Anytime I can help, I seriously have an entire wall of cookbooks gathering dust these days. I can gladly reference and search out ideas for you.

    LOL.. I must have had a bit too much juice earlier... seems I have diaherra of the fingers tonight.

    Thanks for the compliment M'Lady, I do so appreciate it.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  13. Foamheart, that was incredible!!!!!!!! From the fabulous write-up to the gorgeous photos!!! AMAZING!!! Thank you for sharing!!! Cheers! - Leah
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Kevin........  just a note on my reflections....   after all the posts/threads, I'm convinced you are not just "another pretty face"......    And that's ALL I'm sayin' 'bout that...   [​IMG]  ...  
  15. Hi Foamheart, again another great post.

    As a pure bleed Cajan I love all the different recipes that come from our great culture. Like you I also have a good sized cook book collection. One of my favorites is "Cajun Men Cook" published by the Beaver Club of Lafayette even has a good road kill recipe.

    as you stated each has his own method for cooking Jambalaya.I do mine basically as you with a couple of differences but I am sure they probably come out pretty close to the same.

    Keep the great posts coming.
  16. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great post Foamheart. I certainly learned a few things - not least the difference between Gumbo and Jambalaya. I have eaten both many times but being a Brit I needed it to be pointed out to me [​IMG].

    I will try your recipe next weekend as we have a crowd coming over. [​IMG]
  17. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I just love this style of cooking,said it before but for  me way down here[​IMG]its the authenticity,history & the regionally of the style of cooking that does it for me. 

    Great post,just brilliant.
  18. I know where I am going for Thanksgiving![​IMG]
  19. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks, Brian, I was trying to hurry to help with your boxing party.

    These will be ready about Hmmmmmm.......... Maybe Mardi Gras, (if its a late show this year, we're about due a late one).
    Why thank you M'Lady, something this simple and common always surprises me when others like it. Course ol 'Hank Williams did a lot for the popularity of the dish.
    Whatcha talkin 'bout Dave. Each one of these smile lines its a recognition of a challenge obtained and dealt with in life. I earned every one of them! And must the hard way...LOL 
    Why thank you Leah, I wish I had your eye for plating, I know it would look a lot better. Thank you.
  20. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I really appreciate that Cecil especially from another hometown boy. I am not one of those who believe that there is a right and a wrong way to cook, its about what you like. It does mean that I would not have long ago enjoyed sitting in the old city barber shop, Waguespack's, and listened to the discussions back then on what should and should not be cooked in a jambalaya....LOL
    Thank you Wade, ya know every ethnic group or geographic area has both gumbo and jambalaya, they just use the ingredients they have locally and call it by the name they use. Its still flavored rice or rice and gravy.
    That is why I always enjoy your cooking so much, Here we'd never think of cooking mullet, but you have shown me it can be done and tastee too! There is a reason usually for all the food preparations, and to me understanding the whys adds incite to the hows. 
    I have given over holiday cooking here to the next generation. I cook all the time, they only get the holidays. By getting them involved in the turkey or dressing or whatever it is sort of like the mortar holding it all together. A right of passage? Even my sister who doesn't cook, is responsible for paper products. Each person has an assignment, and its up to them to do as good as they can. Isn't that what most folks talk about around the table?  "I just said it was a new style bean casserole, when I went to get the beans they were sold out and all I could get was waxed beans". ...LOL

    Its the holidays as long as family and friends are together, how can anything else really be that important?

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