Creole-Cajun style Jambalaya cuisine is a highly versatile style of cooking that has become very popular; it is a one-pot dish cooked in cast iron Jambalaya pots.
Cooking Jambalaya is more of an art than a science these days as it has become firmly entrenched as part of our American heritage. But there is one important thing to appreciate; it just isnt Jambalaya if it isnt cooked within a traditional cast iron Jambalaya pot.
Jambalaya is a southern dish arising out of Louisianas rice production and all its traditions. Rice is a fundamental part of all Jambalaya dishes; it absorbs all the flavors of all the other ingredients giving us all those beautiful and distinctive tastes we have come to love.
Now to an important rule. After the rice has been added, the jambalaya should be turned but never stirred. This is to prevent the grains of rice from breaking up. Usually a jambalaya dish is turned just three times after the rice is added with the cook scooping from the bottom of the pot to mix the rice evenly with all the other ingredients. In larger pots shovels are used to turn the Jambalaya!
Jambalaya recipes can be made up from beef, fresh pork, chicken, duck, shrimp, oysters, crayfish or sausage, combined typically with onions, garlic, tomatoes,cayenne pepper, green peppers, celery and other seasoning; and of course, the all important long grained white rice. The typical preparation of Jambalaya involves creating a rich stock from vegetables, meat, and seafood whereupon white-grained long rice is added and the flavors absorbed as the rice cooks.
At its heart Jambalaya is a highly seasoned rice dish that is strongly flavored with mixes of meat and seafood
The most common jambalaya dish is Creole jambalaya or red jambalaya. This dish originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans. Here typically chicken and sausage are browned, then vegetables and tomatoes are added and cooked. This is then followed by the addition of mixed seafood and then at the end rice and stock are added. The mixture is then left to simmer for 20 to 60 minutes.
The story goes that Creole-Jambalaya was a best stab, by the Spanish at making the traditional Spanish paella at a time when saffron was too costly due to import costs. As a result tomatoes were substitute for saffron. As time passed Caribbean spices were added and altogether this turned a best attempt at making a paella into a new dish called Jambalaya.
A second Jambalaya dish, popular in southwest and south-central Louisiana, is Cajun jambalaya; a dish that contains no tomatoes. The meat is browned in a cast-iron pot and removed then onions, celery, and green peppers are added and cooked until soft. Stock and seasonings are added and the meats returned to the pot. The mixture is then left to simmer for one hour and then finally rice is added to the pot. The Jambalaya is then covered and left to simmer over a low heat for half an hour without stirring.