February is here! and that makes me think of two things: Valentine's Day and Marti Gras!! I felt inspired to make a dinner that is a mix of both. I must admit, it is heavier on the Cajun and lighter on the Cupid...Jambalaya and heart-shaped King Cake. My recipe for the cake will be in another post soon.
New Orleans is such a great place to visit. I can't imagine a better food scene anywhere! I'm always looking for a reason to do a New Orleans style meal. This time of year is the best reason. I live in Birmingham, so I wanted to put a little Alabama spin on the usual Jambalaya recipe. What better way to do that then to use our own Conecuh Sausage??
3 Tbsp Olive Oil (or Vegetable Oil)
1 onion (chopped)
1 red Bell Pepper (chopped)
4-5 Cloves Garlic (minced)
2 Jalapeño Peppers (chopped finely)
2 Chicken Breasts (cut into small pieces)
1 lb. Conecuh Sausage (sliced)
3 cups Chicken Broth or Stock (I used stock)
1 15 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tbsp Cajun or Creole Seasoning
1 tsp Rubbed Sage
1 tsp dried Oregano
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
the juice and zest of 1/2 Lemon
1 cup White Rice
2 Tbsp Capers (without juice)
1 lb. Fresh Okra (sliced)
1 or 2 lbs frozen Shrimp (I used 2)-peeled and deveined
1. Heat the Oil over medium-high heat, in a large pan and throw in the veggies and garlic.
2. Once the Onions are starting to get tender and translucent (about 5 minutes in), add the Chicken and Sausage. Cook until Chicken is no longer pink (about 10 minutes).
3. Add the Chicken Stock, Tomatoes and next 6 ingredients.
4. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and allow it to simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add in the Okra and Capers about halfway through this process and give it a good stir.
5. Finally, add in the Shrimp and allow it to cook until pink, stirring every few minutes.
*I like to develop my own recipes. It's a fun process, but the problem with it is that sometimes flavors don't come together as well as I would like. The flavors in this recipe though....turned out delicious! It reminds me of a certain New Kids on the Block song, The Right Stuff! This time, I put "the right stuff" in the pan!! It recently came to my attention that they are back together and performing!
Here they are today! Can you believe it? The original boy band...how about that? Ha! Be still my first-grade heart!
Cooking by holiday theme is always fun. I enjoy the process and my family and friends enjoy eating the results. I hope you get inspired by Valentine's Day and Marti Gras too. Let your creative juices flow and see what ideas you may have for this fun time of year.