Thursday, 8 March 2012

Louisiana Jambalaya à la Babette

Today’s recipe has been inspired by the French TV-cook, restaurant-owner and recipe-book-writer Babette de Rozières. How many times I’ve watched this warm-hearted, Guadeloupe-born woman prepare her delicious meals during the show “C à vous” (literally “It’s for you”) which is aired daily from 7-8 p.m! The show takes place in a huge flat where the show-hostess Alessandra Sublet and her staff of journalists receive their guests (singers, actors, writers, politicians) in a cosy atmosphere for an interview cum dinner. In the background, there’s this big kitchen-space; and more often than not, it’s a smiling Babette who prepares the meal for everybody. I used to watch the show in my tiny tiny flat while preparing my own dinner. And from time to time, when the recipe was just too irresistibly yummy, I downloaded it and stored it in my recipe-folder. Ever since I’ve started watching the “True Blood”-series (one of my favourites), I’ve wanted to cook a special, Southern meal. And how perfect for me that Babette provided me with a recipe! So I did it. A really rich and tasty and colourful Louisiana Jambalaya with which I could’ve fed an entire army!

What you need: 
  • 300 g of rice 
  • 1 can of peeled tomatoes 
  • 2-5 slices of pineapple (canned if you want) 
  • 300 g of chorizo (a spicy Spanish sausage; any spicy hot sausage will do, I gather) 
  • 2 smoked sausages 
  • 2 onions 
  • 3 shallots 
  • 2 red peppers 
  • 1 green pepper 
  • 2 fresh tomatoes 
  • 2 carrots 
  • 3 dried chilli peppers (optional, only if you like spicy hot food) 
  • 2 celeries 
  • 2 sprigs of thyme 
  • 2 sprigs of parsley 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • ½ tablespoonful of that yummy Cajun spice mix (FYI, it consists of: thyme, onion, garlic, paprika, oregano, pepper, mustard seeds, hot chilli pepper and caraway
  • 12 cloves 
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • 1 l of water 
  • 3 cubes of chicken stock 
  • Some olive oil 
  • Salt, pepper 
  • If you want: 400 g of peeled prawns and 200 g of cooked ham 
How to proceed: 
  • Chop the onions, shallots, garlic, parsley and celeries. 
  • Slice the chorizo and the smoked sausages. 
  • Chop the canned tomatoes; do not discard the juice! 
  • Cut the carrots, the pineapple slices and the fresh tomatoes into cubes. 
  • Cut the green and red peppers into strips. 
  • Grind the cloves to powder. If you choose to use the dried chilli peppers, grind them together with the cloves. 
  • Heat the water and dissolve the 3 cubes of chicken stock in it. 
  • Choose a huge pot; heat some olive oil and stir-fry the celeries, parsley, onions, shallots and garlic at medium heat. 
  • Add the chorizo and the smoked sausages; stir-fry for 3 minutes. 
  • Add the peppers and carrots; stir-fry for another 3 minutes. 
  • Add the fresh tomatoes, the pineapples and the rice. Stir well. 
  • Add the can of peeled and chopped tomatoes with their juice. 
  • Add the Cajun spice mix, the clove powder (or clove-and-chilli pepper powder if you’ve opted for the spiced-up version), thyme and bay leaves. Stir for 3 minutes (at low heat now) until the rice swells. 
  • Add your chicken broth, some salt and pepper. 
  • Let the Jambalaya simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is perfectly cooked at your taste (al dente for those who prefer their rice al dente; less crisp for those who like it less crisp). 
  • Optional: This was in Babette’s recipe but, to be honest, what with the slicing, cutting and chopping which takes quite a while, I was rather fed up by the time I reached this (optional) state of our recipe. And one look into the simmering meal (about a ton of food for me and Seb) was enough for me to take the decision not to add anything more! But if you’re really very hungry, or if your whole family of ten has been invited, here’s the rest. Peel the prawns, cut the cooked ham into cubes. Stir-fry them for 5 minutes with some olive oil, in a pan and at low heat. Add them to the rest before serving. 
We had a wonderful dinner with the prawn-and-ham-less version of this Jambalaya à la Babette. The spicy chorizo together with the chilli peppers and the Cajun spice mix titillated our palates; the tomatoes and cloves sweetened the meal; the pineapple added some acidity; and the peppers and smoked sausages and celeries rounded up the whole. A real voyage right into the bayou, and there’s enough food for at least 8 persons! 
Bon appétit!


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