Back in the early 80’s, I lived and worked in Morgan City, Louisiana. It was there I first fell in love with Cajun cuisine, from “dirty rice” and hot boudin sausages to the mouth-watering flavors of Danny’s Fried Chicken (much more authentic than Popeye’s!) and the ginormous pork and beef ribs at Dick’s Rib Shack. It was a taste-bud opening experience!
Around this same time, I discovered Justin Wilson (1914-2001), the down-home Cajun chef whose “Louisiana Cookin'” was broadcast on PBS. Wilson’s relaxed, easy-goin’ style and humorous asides to his audience soon were picked up for broadcast nationwide, turning America on to the deliciousness of Cajun food. Wilson had first made his mark in entertainment as a Cajun storyteller in the 60’s, relating whimsical tales of life in Bayou Country with his exaggerated Cajun accent and catchphrases like “How y’all are?”. His talent as a comical Cajun raconteur landed him a spot on the then-prestigious ED SULLIVAN SHOW, and after his WYES-TV cooking series from New Orleans went national, he penned a series of best-selling books extolling the virtues of Cajun cooking.
Since today is Fat Tuesday, the beginning of the Mardi Gras celebration, I thought I’d share my (and Justin’s) love for all things Cajun by sharing his recipe for that old Louisiana classic, Jambalaya! It’s simple and easy to make, and you can adjust and deviate from the original if you choose to do so by adding Red Pepper, Jalapenos, Hot Sauce, or even more Cayenne (the hotter the better, far as I’m concerned!). Here’s Justin Wilson’s original recipe(makes apprx. 10 servings):
3/4 cup EVOO
3 cloves Garlic (minced can be substituted)
4 cups Rice
4 cups Water
4 cups Chicken Stock
2 large Green Peppers, diced
1 large Onion, diced
2 lbs. Andoullie Sausage, sliced
2 lbs. Chicken, diced
1/2 lb. Peeled & Deveined Shrimp
1 1/8 bunch Parsley
1-2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the EVOO on medium, add the garlic, then the rest of the veggies until soft. Add your sausage and chicken and cook until almost done, then add the shrimp. Stir all together, then add your rice and cayenne pepper, mixing well. Add the liquids, bring to a boil, throw in your parsley, letting it all rapidly boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, then it’s done! Let it sit awhile, than enjoy that scrumptious Cajun dinner with a side of Jalapeno Cornbread! Yeah, buddy!You’ll think you’re down on the bayou after eating this… I Guar-On-Tee!
(Justin Wilson products can be found at https://justinwilson.com/ )