Thursday, July 28, 2011

Favorite Dishes: Jambalaya Risotto

Typically, my posts will be about what I cooked that day, but every now and then I'll highlight one of my favorite recipes.  These posts will usually be shorter and feature fewer pictures since I didn't have my handy camera back when I cooked these dishes.

A lot of traditional Cajun meals like gumbo and jambalaya are based off the idea of turning your week's leftovers into something new. As a result, they typically consist of throwing together a bunch of random meat and veggies with spices and rice, so this can be a pretty inexpensive meal to make at the end of the week. Why be wasteful when you can eat things?

Ask anyone back home and they'll probably say their mom makes the best jambalaya. Just so you know, that's a flat out lie because my mom makes the best jambalaya (FACT).

I decided I wanted to make a creamier version of jambalaya, so I chose risotto rice for its natural (and non-fatty) creaming abilities. Here's my original recipe.

Jambalaya Risotto
Servings: 2-3
Time: 45 minutes

3-4 cups veggie broth
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 link veggie sausage (kielbasa)
1 Gardein chick'n scallopini patty
10 oz canned diced tomatoes (juices included)
1/2 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 cup arborio rice
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Tabasco Sauce to taste

  1. Bring the veggie broth to a simmer in a sauce pan. Once at a simmer, lower the temperature and keep it hot.
  2. Cook the "sausage" and "chicken" in the oil until browned and set aside (about 5 minutes).
  3. Sauté the bell pepper, onions, scallions and garlic in the butter for about 3 minutes or until soft and aromatic.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, wine and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Let the level reduce by about half.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add the rice and half a cup of the broth. STIR CONSTANTLY until the rice absorbs all the liquid.
  6. Repeat in 1/2 cup increments until the rice becomes creamy (usually about 3 1/2 cups in).
  7. Add the "chicken", "sausage" and seasoning and let cook for about 3 minutes or until the fake meat is heated through.
  8. Remove the bay leaf (trust me, this is important) and eat. Add tabasco as needed.
The jambalaya risotto is a lot like an étouffée minus the heavy cream, which is a good thing.  It also makes great leftovers because the spices have extra time to absorb and the risotto rice keeps it creamy instead of drying up like normal rice. Just be careful when adding your spices. One downfall of cajun cooking is when all you taste is pepper. The pepper should be there to give it kick but not take over the dish.

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