Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recipe Revisited: Jambalaya Risotto

Without a doubt, jambalaya risotto is my favorite dish that I've cooked. Every time I make it, it just seems to get even better. I was recently on a cajun kick when my friend Alex came in town. I had been promising to cook for her for the past few months, so I knew I was going to have to be at the top of my culinary game to avoid a massive letdown from the doubtless absurd amount of hype that has been building for her (next week I make humble pie!).  If I was going to take over her kitchen, it was going to have to be with my favorite dish, but this time I was going to have to use actual meat. Despite still lacking much confidence in my meat cooking abilities, I knew the lessons I've learned about risotto would help carry the dish.

Jambalaya Risotto
Original Post
Servings: 3-4
Time: 60 minutes

3-4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 links andouille sausage
10 jump shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can diced tomatoes (juices included)
white wine, a lot of white wine
1 bay leaf
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Tabasco Sauce to taste

  1. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Keep it warm.
  2. Slice then cook the sausage in a frying pan until it browns. Reserve the juices and use them to cook the shrimp until they turn orange. Set aside.
  3. Sauté the bell pepper, onions, scallions and garlic in the butter and oil until soft and aromatic (about five minutes).
  4. Stir in the rice and cook for one minute.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of white wine and the bay leaf and bring to a simmer stirring frequently. Let the level reduce until it's almost completely absorbed. DO NOT LET IT DRY OUT.
  6. Add about 1/2 a cup to a cup of chicken broth and let reduce again while stirring constantly.
  7. Alternate adding wine and chicken broth as before until the risotto becomes creamy (probably about 4-5 total cups in).
  8. Once the risotto has become creamy, add the meat and spices and cook for another few minutes until heated up.
  9. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

Now, Alex will no longer assume I'm lying every time I talk about cooking.
This was the best rendition of my jambalaya risotto yet. The shrimp and andouille made it more authentically cajun while adding some nice spice and texture to the creamy dish (but this is not to put down the veggie version which is almost equally incredible and a slightly healthier way to enjoy this great meal). The biggest improvement, though, was the use of wine. Previously, I would only add 1/2 a cup of wine initially and the rest was broth. Kevin taught me back in the Grapefruit Risotto that the key to a quality risotto is using lots of wine, and it really does help add a lot of flavor (plus the rest of the bottle is great to keep you entertained during the long hour of stirring you have ahead of you). Risottos may be a lot of work, but you're always rewarded for your efforts.  Thankfully, the dish was a big hit and Alex has decided to remain my friend. And now we can look back and laugh at those days in college where the extent of my cooking abilities involved crafting peanut butter with jelly (once this blog hits the big time I'll go into more detail on that) or having Whataburger grill my onions on our late night runs.

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