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

Roasted Sausages and Grapes

January 28th, 2013

There are very few dishes that The Barefoot Contessa does not do well; foolproof recipes so to speak.  Her new cookbook Foolproof; recipes you can trust is a case in point.  One of the recipes she includes is this recipe for Roasted Sausages and Grapes.  The recipe comes from Al Forno, a restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island.  Al Forno is known for its wood-burning ovens and hardwood charcoal grills.  This is a dish I would cook in my fireplace in Lake Lure.

But unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your outlook, we are in Florida without a fireplace.  And fortunately this recipe can be cooked in a 500 degree oven. The  combination of sausages and grapes is a genius idea.  The following picture shows the sausages and grapes ready to go into the oven.

The roasted grapes make a sweet counterpoint to the spicy sausages.  The final touch is a balsamic vinegar reduction that brings it all together.  We absolutely loved this combination.

I served the sausages and grapes with creamy mashed potatoes and zucchini cakes.  This is an easy recipe and a satisfying winter meal.


1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian pork sausages
1 1/2 pounds hot Italian pork sausages
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds seedless green grapes, removed from the stems
1/2 cup good balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the sausages, and simmer for 8 minutes to remove some of the fat.  Remove to a plate.

Melt the butter in a large roasting pan on top of the stove.  Add the grapes and toss them to coat with butter.  Transfer the sausages to the roasting pan with tongs, nestling them down in the grapes in one layer.  Place in the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, turning the sausages once, until they’re browned and the grapes are tender.

Transfer the sausages and grapes to a serving platter with tongs and a slotted spoon and cover with aluminum foil to keep them hot.  Add the balsamic vinegar to the roasting pan and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes to reduce the balsamic vinegar slightly.  Pour over the sausages and grapes and serve hot.

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Pasta with Sausage, Sage and Cream

October 25th, 2012

This is a very easy week night dinner that can be pulled together with very little effort.  The inspiration came from Bonnie at From a Writer’s Kitchen.  She in turn adapted the recipe from The New York Times.  This begs the question “when does a  recipe become your own”?   However I arrived at the finished dish, it is a good one.

We are packing up the house in preparation for our return to Florida for the winter.  I had some bratwurst in the freezer, sage in the garden and linguini in the pantry.  It is almost as easy as that.  Throw in some cream or half and half and a bit of Parmesan and dinner is ready.

I served this with leftovers from the sage financiers I made here.


1/2 pound linguini cooked according to package directions
4 bratwurst sausages, cut into pieces and cooked
12 to 16 sage leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 cup cream or half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

While the pasta is cooking:

1.  Saute the sage leaves in the olive oil over medium heat until crisp.  This takes only about 30 sec per side. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
2.  Cut the sausages into half inch pieces and saute them in the same oil until lightly browned, adding the garlic at the last minute and saute until lightly golden in color.  Remove and set aside.
3.  Pour off the fat from the pan and stir in the cream or half and half.  Bring it almost to the boil, stirring.  Reduce the heat and stir the pasta in. Save some of the pasta water.  Correct the seasoning.  Add the sausages and heat through.  Add a little pasta water if it is too thick.
4.  Serve with a scattering of sage leaves and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan.

Printable recipe

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