Italian Sunday Sessions
with Nicole Hernandez & Amy Withers Riedl
Cooking has a sensational way of bringing the flavors and memories of other places and cultures home. One of the greatest gifts Nicole has mentioned in life was the pleasure of living in New Orleans long enough to not only work on the preservation of its beautiful historic architecture but also to learn some of the amazing local recipes from friends. With its roots in Spanish and French and Caribbean culture, New Orleans is famous for its unique, spicy dishes. Now that fall is approaching, you may be ready to get back into the kitchen and spend a cool afternoon cooking.
Jambalaya is a New Orleans favorite and is great for serving to large groups. One of my favorite traditions of local New Orleanean families is to set up a spot on the Mardi Gras parade routes and cook and serving Jambalaya with cocktails to accompany the festivities. Jambalaya was created in Louisiana and has its origins in Spanish paella. Jambalaya is traditionally made in three parts, with meat, vegetables, and is completed by adding homemade stock and rice.
Meat - Chicken and Sausage
Cook Chicken and Stock:
1 whole chicken
2 stocks celery with leaves chopped in thirds
1 whole onion quartered
1 garlic clove - slice in half
2 cups long grain white rice
Place entire whole chicken in large pot and surround with celery, onion and garlic. Add enough water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool. Strain out vegetables from the stock- the rich flavor of the complete dish comes from this homemade stock.
Add 2 cups of white rice to the chicken broth and set to boil. As soon as it boils, lower heat to medium-low and cover for 20 minutes to cook the rice. Once the chicken has cooled, finely shred the chicken and set aside.
New Orleans also has some of the most flavorful hams and sausages and add so much flavor to their dishes. Variations we used included, andouille sausage, a smoked, spicy sausage made using pork and tasso ham. Tasso ham is a specialty of south Louisiana cuisine. It is a spicy, peppery version of smoked pork. It is used in dishes ranging from pasta to crab cakes, soup to gravy. Appropriate to its roots, tasso is most often found in recipes of southern or Cajun/Creole origin, such as jambalaya.
1 pound of andouille sausage chopped to small pieces (this is found in most grocery stores all over the country)
1 pound of tasso ham chopped to small pieces (this is much harder to find outside of Louisiana-and can be substituted with a thick spicy ham.)
Sauté the sausage and ham until brown in a large skillet and set aside.
Many traditional New Orleans recipes start with what the local cooks call “The holy trinity” which is equal parts of chopped onion, celery, and green bell pepper.
1 yellow onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
2 stalks of celery finely chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot pepper sauce (like tabasco)
In a large skillet sauté your "holy trinity" for 8-10 minutes until soft and onions are translucent.
Add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and a 8 oz can of tomatoes and stir.
Add the vegetables, shredded chicken, sausage and ham to the rice and stir thoroughly. Add two bay leafs, salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste and thoroughly stir. Cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes then serve warm with fresh crusty French bread.