Jambalaya – A New Orleans Tradition

February 16th, 2013

We love New Orleans.  We have been there several times and are always charmed by the food, culinary talent, and history of the city.  We don’t spend much time on  infamous Bourbon Street; been there, done that years ago.  But there is so much more to the city.  One of my favorite shops in The French Quarter is Lucullus.

It is a wonderful antique shop that imports all kinds of French antique cookware.  I have a beautiful copper pot, circa early 1900’s, that I bought from the shop at least 15 years ago.  The name of the shop has great gastronomic significance.  Lucullus was a Roman general and politician in 80 BC.  He was known for his decadent banqueting and interest in food.  Today Lucullan means lavish, extravagant, and gourmet; ie, a Lucullan delight.

There are many wonderful restaurants in New Orleans.  My first food epiphany occurred in New Orleans.  I was newly married and we traveled there to a conference that my husband was attending.  Our friends, John and Georgia, who were also attending the conference, had heard of a small restaurant that was supposed to have great food.  We traveled across a bridge to reach it.  I wish I could remember its name.  It is long gone now.  We just called our old friends and they remembered the name.  It was called La Ruth’s.  Thank goodness for friends whose minds are still sharp.  There were only 30 seats but La Ruth’s was always busy.  Both David and I ordered Trout Meuniere.  Even today I can remember the taste of the buttery lemon flavored fish.  I think that was the beginning of my understanding that food could be a transporting experience.  We both still talk about that meal and have tried to duplicate the experience.  We are still working on it.  But sometimes there is only one first time; impossible to recapture.  I wonder if Julia Child ever duplicated her first experience with Sole Meuniere.

Today New Orleans is home to many culinary legends.  Among them is John Besh, a native son of Southern Louisianna.  He has nine restaurants.  Among them is La Provence in Lacombe, just outside of New Orleans.  Set on picturesque grounds with an extensive kitchen garden, La Provence looks like a typical Provencal auberge.  The stucco, tiled roof restaurant features an antique French bar, a huge stucco fireplace and oak beamed ceilings.  It has a sophisticated menu of French and Cajun inspired dishes.  But the closest thing you can find to Jambalaya would be a Quail Gumbo.  Nonetheless the recipe that I am featuring today is a John Besh jambalaya that was featured in People magazine of all places.

I must give credit where credit is due.  David found this recipe, bought the ingredients and cooked it.  He is still smarting over the fact that I never mentioned that he made the Braised Short Ribs that we had at Christmas.  Jambalaya is a Louisiana Creole dish with Spanish and French influences.  Meats and seafood cooked with rice is reminiscent of the Spanish paella.  The Provencal word Jambon, meaning ham, is more than likely the basis of the word’s origin.  David included both chicken and pork in this dish, along with andouille sausage and shrimp.  It was delicious.

It is good straight out of the pot.  But I “fancied up” the presentation a bit.  I saved some of the shrimp, sausages and sauce separately.  After the jambalaya was done I placed a serving of it in a round bowl, packed it down and then inverted it into an individual serving bowl.  I surrounded it with sauce and sausage pieces and placed three shrimp on the top.  I sprinkled it with snipped chives for a little color.  This makes a lot so it is good for company.

JAMBALAYA (Adapted from John Besh)

3 slices of bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 lb andouille sausage, sliced
3 cups uncooked, converted Louisiana white rice
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2-1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce (I used Rao’s Marinara sauce)
1/2 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (More for presentation)
2 cups diced cooked pork and chicken
3 green onions, chopped
Hot sauce

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, cook bacon over medium-high heat until fat is rendered, about 3 minutes.  Add onions, stirring often until browned.  Add green pepper, celery and sausage; cook, stirring often, 3 minutes longer.  Add rice, paprika, thyme and red pepper flakes.

Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, pork, chicken and green onions; bring to a boil, stirring well.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer 18 minutes until rice is done.  (Add shrimp after rice has cooked for about 5 minutes into the process.)  Remove from heat.  Seasons with salt and hot sauce.

Printable recipe

Puerco Cubano

February 9th, 2013

You know those store-bought rice bowls in the prepared food aisles of the grocery store?  I hate them.  It seems to me that it is much easier to pull together a homemade version with less additives and less cost.   You can mix up all kinds of things with rice.  This Puerco Cubano is a good example.

I found this recipe in a book by Diane Mott Davidson called  Crunch Time.  She is the author of the Goldy Bear caterer mysteries.  Don’t know about you, but when I read a mystery I like it when the protagonist eats.  There is just so much of sleuthing, danger and mayhem that I can take before I am ready for my detective to retire to her or his lair for a little rejuvenation.  I relish those moments when a glass of wine is poured and water is brought to a boil for pasta,while cheese is grated and a salad is tossed.  These are moments of introspection for the sleuth.  A warm bed is waiting to lull the busy mind to rest and restore it to renewed vigor in the morning light.  So many thriller novels leave out the basics of life.  I’m sorry, but we all have to eat, bathe, sleep and use the bathroom.  It just makes me feel good when these incidents are included in a book, well maybe not the bathroom part.  Diane Mott Davidson does this  very well because her books are focused on food along with the mystery.  This makes me a happy reader.  In addition her recipes are included in the back of the book.


Puerco Cubano was meant as a quick comfort food in the book.  It was easy to prepare, using ground pork flavored with orange juice and lime juice.  It was served over simple cooked rice.  I like the idea of using fresh squeezed orange juice as the liquid in this dish.  Oranges are plentiful this time of year and, goodness knows, we all can use the hit of vitamin C in the winter.

This was a very satisfying meal.  Both easy and tasty.  You could add many things to the mix; black beans, avocados, green onions or pistachios.  I think it needed a little crunch.  Homemade rice bowls are flexible that way.


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons freshly minced or crushed garlic
2 teaspoons demi-glace de poulet or demi-glaze veau (chicken or veal demi-glace) I used a bouillon cube disolved in 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh or organic, not-from-concentrate lime juice
2 teaspoons (or more) granulated sugar
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large (12-inch) nonstick saute’ pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the pork and the garlic, and cook, stirring and breaking up the pork, until the meat is just cooked. Add the demi-glace and stir well.

Add the flour, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook stirring, until the flour is cooked and the mixture bubbles.

Stir in the juices and sugar and raise the heat to medium. Stir constantly until the mixture bubbles and is thickened. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Serve over hot cooked rice and sprinkled with cilantro.

Printable recipe


Teriyaki Chicken Skewers with Orange Rice Salad

June 29th, 2009

The 4th of July celebrations on the lake are always fun. There are festivals at Rumbling Bald Resort and two fireworks displays on either end of the lake. The Rumbling Bald fireworks are on the fourth and the city shoots their fireworks on the evening of the fifth. At dusk the lake is full of boats making their way to the east to view the first of the events. We take sweaters and blankets because the evening tends to get cool. There is something special about viewing the bright bursts of color from the boat.

The traditional 4th of July dinner has always been ribs on the grill, but this year I am trying something different. I have been experimenting with a variety of meat and vegetable combinations and finally hit on this version which I think is a winner. Chicken cubes are marinated in one baggie and pineapple and green and red peppers in another. They are arranged on the skewers and basted with the marinade from the fruit and pepper mixture. They cook quickly and look vibrant on a bed of orange rice.

The rice salad can be made ahead of time and compliments the teriyaki flavors so well. I love this salad. It comes from Anna Pump’s new book Summer on a Plate. It can be served at room temperature which is an added bonus if you are asked to bring a dish to a picnic.

I will be posting another recipe for the fourth of July soon. It is one that I have had in my arsenal for years. It is called Firecrackers.


Makes 3 servings (can easily be doubled)
3 boneless chicken breast halves cut into 2″ squares
1 green pepper, cut into 1″ squares
1 red pepper, cut into 1″ squares
1/2 fresh pineapple, cut into 1″ squares
2 Tbls sugar
4 Tbls Soy Sauce
4 Tbls Mirin (sweetened sake) If you can’t find this, eliminate the soy and use 8 Tbls teriyaki sauce
6 wooden skewers, soaked in water

Place chicken pieces (you should have 18 pieces) in one large baggie. Place pepper and pineapple pieces in another baggie. Mix sugar, soy and mirin (or teriyaki sauce) in small sauce pan and heat just until sugar dissolves. Cool. Pour half of marinade over chicken and the other half over the peppers and pineapple. Marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Thread ingredients on six wooden skewers alternating. You should have three each of red pepper, pineapple, chicken and green pepper.

Prepare grill. It should be hot. Spray grill with oil and grill the skewers turning as needed and basting with the marinade from the veggies and pineapple, until chicken is cooked, approximately 10 minutes.


2 Tbls olive oil
2 Tbls unalted butter
2 cups finely chopped onion (one large)
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice ( I used Uncle Ben’s)
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice (I used mixture of fresh and juice from the carton)
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp kosher salt (I used less)
2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup minced fresh chives or scallions
I added the zest of one orange

1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 Tbls fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a heavy pot over low heat melt the butter with the olive oil and saute the onions and rice for 5 minutes. Stir often, so it does not brown. Add the orange juice, water, salt and pepper. Cover and cook 15 to 17 minutes ( Mine took 20 ) or until rice is just tender. Spoon the rice into a large bowl. Fluff it with a fork to separate the grains. Add the pine nuts, celery and chives.

Place all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well to blend. Pour dressing over the rice and toss gently but thoroughly. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Printable recipe – Teriyaki Chicken Skewers
Printable recipe – Orange Rice Salad

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.