Creole Jambalaya and a visit to New Orleans and Bourbon Street

Happy Monday to you!  Last week I posted Part One of our farm visit to Crystal Pines Alpaca Farm and said that I would have Part Two for you this week.

Walking along the Mississippi River

Well, I told you a story I am putting that on hold for a bit so that I can share some of our pictures from New Orleans with you today.  In fact, I will be doing a few posts on the Crescent City over the next few weeks.  I know some of you Mountain Mondays fans may be a bit upset, but I promise these pictures from Bourbon Street will have you smiling.

There are all sorts of characters and sights to see on Bourbon Street at night.

I had not been to New Orleans in many years, so when our friends John and Denise at Newf in My Soup asked us to meet them there for a visit, we were ready to go On the Road again!  We’ll do anything for some great seafood or a plate full of beignets and some Chicory Coffee…including driving seven hours one way!

Beignets and Chicory Coffee at Cafe du Monde. You can’t eat just one!

I am sure glad that we did.  We had so much fun eating and drinking with John and Denise and eating and drinking some more all by ourselves.  I just love that city!  No other place serves up good food, booze and beignets quite like they do and there certainly is only one Bourbon Street!  Where else would you see a sign like this?

Or this?

New Orleans is resilient and a city full of traditions, fabulous food and great people.  One of those traditions is Mardi Gras and we were lucky to have been there for the beginning of the festivities.

This woman is wearing the Mad Hatter dress for Mardi Gras.

I am feeling very much in the Mardi Gras spirit after seeing all the decorations.  I even brought home one pretty awesome set of beads!

I love my major strand of Mardi Gras beads.

The people of New Orleans that we met were welcoming and incredibly warm.  They love their city and are doing everything they can to preserve it and their great history.  Then of course, there are guys like this that are friendly and talking even when no one else is in the bar!

WHO is he talking to?

Everyone sure likes to have fun while they are in this city.  We certainly did.  We had a great time watching people dance, sing and enjoy a little Karaoke action.

I hope that you will enjoy our photographs.  I have such great memories from the trip that when I see the photos again I am ready to pack my bags and go back!  When can we leave?

If you haven’t been to New Orleans yet or if you haven’t been to visit in awhile, I highly recommend taking a trip there soon.  There is so much to do, eat and drink, sights to see, eat and drink, and eat and drink places to go!

While we were in town we ate at many delightful restaurants including Ralph’s on the Park, Mr. B’s Bistro, Red Fish Grill, Restaurant August and Emeril’s.  I will be writing more about them later.  We had so many phenomenal meals, but the one thing we did not have was Creole Jambalaya, so I came home and made my own.  This dish is very popular in New Orleans and traditionally served during Mardi Gras, so I thought it would be fitting to serve some up while we are in the middle of Mardi Gras.

According to the New Orleans Seafood Cookbook (Ralph Brennan), jambalaya “is one of the oldest in the traditional New Orleans’s Creole cook’s repertoire.  Some have speculated that “jambalaya” is a contraction of jambon à la ya-ya - marrying the French word jambon, for ham, with the old African Bantu word ya-ya for rice.”

I loved my jambon and ya-ya!

This recipe had the classic flavors that I associate with New Orleans and Creole cooking.  It takes a little bit of time to prepare, but it’s that long simmering time that gives you such great flavors.  I used fresh Andouille sausage from a local sausage maker that I wanted to try.  It gave the jambalaya a nice depth of flavor, but next time I would use a cured sausage since it will remain firm during the cooking process.

I did not cook my jambalaya quite as long once the rice was added because I like mine more like a stew leaving more sauce rather than reducing it totally. There is nothing better than sopping up that sauce with some crusty French bread!

Serve this with a bottle of Abita Mardi Gras Bock (Abita is a Louisiana brewing company), bring out your beads and celebrate Mardi Gras just like a local!

Enjoy!


 

Creole Jambalaya

New Orleans Seafood Cookbook
Ralph Brennan

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or 2 tablespoons if pork and sausage are very lean)
4 ounces Andouille sausage*, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
4 ounces pickled pork** or ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
1 medium green sweet pepper, chopped
2 cans (10 oz size) crushed plum tomatoes
¼ cup canned tomato puree
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole bay leaf
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
4 quarts chicken stock
1 tablespoon Louisiana pepper sauce
2 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked
1 pound raw medium shrimp, peeled

* smoked or Polish sausage (kielbasa) can be substituted for Andouille
** pickled pork…any good-quality ham may be used instead

Directions:

Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a heavy, non-reactive 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven.

Add the sausage and pickled pork or ham and cook until all of the fat is rendered out of the meats, about five minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the yellow onions, the white part of the green onions and the sweet peppers, Cook the vegetables until they are clear, about five minutes, occasionally stirring and scraping the pan bottom clean.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, garlic, bay leaf, table salt, black pepper, cayenne, and thyme. Cook and stir this base sauce about two minutes. (If the dish is being prepared ahead, allow the base sauce to cool, then place in a lidded non-reactive container and store in the refrigerator for up to two days. For the final preparation heat the base to a boil and proceed with the remainder of the recipe.)

Add the chicken stock and pepper sauce to the base and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to maintain a strong simmer, and simmer the liquid uncovered until it is reduced by one third, about one hour 15 minutes. Skim and foam or coagulates as they develop on the surface.

Return the liquid to a boil and stir in the rice.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook uncovered until the rice is just short of being done (it should still look a little firm in the center), about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the shrimp and cook until the rice is tender and the shrimp turn bright pink, about three minutes. Do not overcook.

Stir in the green part of the green onions.

Notes for Making Ahead:
This recipe can be prepared up to two days ahead by completing steps 1 through 4, allowing the base sauce to cool a bit, then covering and storing it in the refrigerator. When it’s time to finish the preparation, bring the base sauce to a boil and proceed to step 5.

30 Responses to “Creole Jambalaya and a visit to New Orleans and Bourbon Street”

  1. 1

    Taylor — February 28, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

    Looks like you had an awesome trip! I had my first taste of Louisiana tailgating at LSU, after reading this I need to plan a trip to New Orleans! The Beignets look awesome!

    • Gwen replied: — March 2nd, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

      Hi Taylor,

      It was a great trip! I have seen the partying that takes place in New Orleans after an LSU and Tulane game, so I am sure you had a mighty fine time as well!

      Gwen

  2. 2

    Kath — February 28, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

    We love New Orleans. My husband lived there for a couple of years before we met, so we have lots of good friends there and I have cousins in New Orleans and Lafayette. I wish we could get there in 7 hours by car!

    Thanks for sharing your photos! I’ve never been there for Mardi Gras, but I love visiting for Jazz Fest!

    • Gwen replied: — March 2nd, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

      Hi Kath,

      It was such a great trip. Love that city! I hope you get back to visit soon.

      Gwen

  3. 3

    The Mom Chef — February 28, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

    I am still getting over a major amount of jealousy that you were there. These pictures help soothe it a little, though. You definitely captured the spirit of the place. I love the cast of characters you presented.

    • Gwen replied: — March 2nd, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

      Hi Christiane,

      There is definitely a vibe that is New Orleans and it is different from nay other cities I hope you get to visit soon!

      Gwen

  4. 4

    Denise@There's a Newf in My Soup! — February 28, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

    Although you saw a bit more of the colorful French Quarter than we did this trip, it was a wonderful first experience for us to travel to New Orleans, meet up with you and Roger, and enjoy just a few of the incredible restaurants this historic city has to offer. I hope to post my first recap and recipe within the next few days, with more photos and will link back to you so our readers can live vicariously and experience the most from our trip ;-)

    • Gwen replied: — March 2nd, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

      Hi Denise and John,

      It was so much fun and I think you all did a pretty good job of eating (and drinking) your way through New Orleans with us!

      I hope you get to visit the city again. As you know, there is much to see!

      Gwen

  5. 5

    ronnie — February 28, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

    Yes, that is what we must do – live vicariously through you two! And with all the great storytelling, images and recipes, it will be most authentic experience, too. Can’t wait to try the jambalaya! I have some Louisiana hot sauce at the ready!

    • Gwen replied: — March 2nd, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

      Hi Ronnie,

      Thank you for the comment. I get to relive our experiences when I see the photos and that’s pretty awesome, too!

      I tried Crystal hot sauce for the first time and really enjoyed it. I normally use Louisiana hot sauce. Try that one if you haven’t already. We really enjoyed the flavor.

      Gwen

  6. 6

    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors — February 28, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

    New Orleans is high up onmy list of must visit foodie cities so what fun!

    Once again what lovely pics and I can tell you had a lot of fun…the creole jambalaya is awesome :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandlfavors

    • Gwen replied: — March 2nd, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

      Hi Devaki,

      New Orleans is definitely a must visit city! We did have a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the food (and maybe a few cocktails…).

      I hope you make it there soon!

      Gwen

  7. 7

    Drick — February 28, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

    dat is one good recipe, of course, any one of the Brennan’s clan can put most to shame… love the pics, makes me want to take a drive over, but will have to wait until after Mardi Gras, besides, you couldn’t even get around this time of year….

    • Gwen replied: — March 2nd, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

      Hi Drick,

      Yes, it was a great recipe! Of course, the city was getting pretty busy, but I wished we had been able to stay another day or day. I was ready for those parades! ;)

      Gwen

  8. 8

    Barbara — February 28, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

    Great post Gwen! I can’t wait to make your jambon and ya ya!!

    • Gwen replied: — March 2nd, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

      Hi Barbara,

      I hope you enjoy the recipe!

      Gwen

  9. 9

    Marie — February 28, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

    Beautiful pics and brought back memories of my fun times in NOLA. Glad you hit some great spots and had a good time, and thank you for sharing the yummy recipe.

    • Gwen replied: — March 2nd, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

      Hi Marie,

      I am glad you enjoyed the photos. The recipe is really good, so I hope you will make it.

      Gwen

  10. 10

    Becky — February 28, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

    I’ve never been to No. yet, but plan to get there one day. My husband and I love creole food, and he especially loves Shrimp Etouffee. Crawfish aren’t easy to find up North. Your jambalaya looks so good, I can taste it now!

  11. 11

    Priscilla - She's Cookin' — February 28, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

    New Orleans is in a city like no other, and you captured its spirit beautifully. It’s been many years since I visited and now I really want to go back – maybe for Jazz Fest. Gorgeous jambon and ya ya – thanks for sharing the Brennan recipe with us. Last year when I made jambalaya for Mardi Gras, I think I riffed on Emeril’s recipe.

  12. 12

    Krista — February 28, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

    What a jolly time you had! I just love that first picture. The lighting is perfect and makes me feel like I’m in the thick of everything. :-)

  13. 13

    Brian @ A Thought For Food — February 28, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

    I have yet to take a trip to New Orleans but I’ve heard amazing things about the food. Looks like you had as ton of fun!

  14. 14

    rebecca — February 28, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

    love the food in New Orleans and man Cafe De Monde heaven great post

  15. 15

    Julie M. — February 28, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

    What an amazing trip you had! I LOVE Cafe du Monde. I can almost taste the beignets just looking at your picture. And that jambalya you cooked up! Holy tator tots does that look delicious! I’m only 4 hours away, where the heck is my invitation to join you in a bowl? :)~

  16. 16

    redkathy — March 1, 2011 @ 12:00 am

    Great photos! They make me want to attend Mardi Gras even more. The beignets look heavenly and your jambalaya oh yum! That is a favorite I haven’t prepared in a long time. I’m gonna have to try this version.

    Have a great week!

  17. 17

    JulieD — March 1, 2011 @ 10:42 am

    Looks like so much fun! I always love your photographs!

  18. 18

    Joyce Pinson — March 1, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    Oh, I love chicory coffee and beignets! We have a local chef who was trained in NOLA…..he is one of the few around here that truly appreciates my gifts of home grown heirloom okra! Giggles
    Glad you had a good time!

  19. 19

    My Man's Belly — March 1, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

    I need to get back to New Orleans…it’s been waaayyyy too long. But I think I still have some of my beads around here somewhere. Lots and lots of beads, and yes, I earned them. ;)

  20. 20

    Kim — March 24, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

    Again… beautiful colors, and terrific recipe! If Mr. RGBistro and I head to the City, will you two come back and join us?!?!?! :-) Maybe next year? Because I haven’t been but would love to go.

    [K]

  21. 21

    Nancie McDermott — February 20, 2012 @ 10:14 am

    Having had the good fortune to meet you two in New Orleans last summer, I take this beautifully illustrated post personally. You wrote it just for me, right? No? That’s all right, there’s plenty for all. Wonderful reminiscence and the recipe for jambalaya is calling me to get cooking on this Mardi Gras eve.

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