Saturday, February 23, 2013

Shrimp Jambalaya

Sorry for the long hiatus, my project of 3 years has come to an end, or rather, have started a new beginning and I have been swamped with work these past couple of weeks. I still have lots of photos and recipes waiting to be blogged. Don't worry, I will get to it, as we say here in the gulf, Inshallah (God willing)!

Anyway, I don't think this one can wait. This dish was an instant hit the first time I tried making it. And although we have never, (EVER!) tried a jambalaya before, this has now become a new favorite in the Casa Vaquer. My husband have requested it twice this week! I guess it's because it closely resembles our favorite Spanish dish, paella. But the great thing about this dish is it is not as labor intensive as the paella. Though it still is time consuming and will require your utmost attention, it is easier to prepare.
What I also love about this one-pot dish is that it is a crowd-pleaser and can instantly be the star of the meal. I made this on our weekend family lunch and everybody loved it. Wow your friends and bring this to your next pot luck.

The original recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe but I have modified the recipe to my own liking. If you want to try Martha's recipe, click here.

The original version calls for long grain rice, I guess if you use long grains the rice would be less mushy. But I love Egyptian rice and is a staple in my pantry. I like medium grains because it closely resembles a risotto and the flavor easily seeps in the rice. So feel free to substitute if you prefer long grains.

Here's how to make this New Orleans dish, Shrimp Jambalaya:

Difficulty: Medium

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 80 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil
240 g Spanish chorizo, cut lengthwise and sliced into 1/6 inch thick
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 celery stalks (Note: reserve trimmed stalks and leaves for the stock)
1/2 head of garlic, minced
2 1/2 tsps paprika
1 1/2 to 2 tsps salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly cracked
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

10 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

3 cups medium-grain white rice, (or long grain if you prefer), rinsed
1 kg medium shrimps, peeled and deveined (*Note: reserve the shells and head for the stock)
1 cup green peas, thawed
3 to 5 cups *stock
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

*For the stock:
Shrimp shells and heads, cleaned
1 red onion, quartered
celery leaves and discarded stalks
5 cups water
1/4 tsp salt

1. Prepare the stock by putting all the ingredients in a pot and bring it up to a boil. Reduce the heat to low until ready to use, approximately 20 minutes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a big pot over high heat. Add the chorizo and occasionally saute for 4-6 minutes until it renders fat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the bell pepper and celery. Cook for another 3 minutes stirring occasionally until the vegetables soften. Add the salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper, (if using) and let the ingredients absorb the spices, about 1 minute.
3. Add the tomatoes and rice and stir until well combined. Add 3 cups of stock and stir. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, checking halfway and stir, making sure not to burn the bottom.
Note: This is where it gets tricky. Add an initial of 3 cups of water. After 10 minutes or so, check if the rice is cooked. Add stock as needed. Keep a close eye so you don't end up with a jambalaya with uncooked rice or is too mushy. I add an interval of 1/2 cup until I get the rice perfectly cooked.

4. Once the the rice is cooked and most of the water has evaporated, add the shrimps and peas and stir for the last time until well combined. Cover the pot and cook for another 2 minutes. Then turn of the burner, do not open the lid of the pot for the shrimp to cook just right.

5. Let the rice sit for another 10 minutes before you serve, to make sure the liquids are fully absorbed. Alternatively, serve immediately if you want a risotto-like texture. Garnish with scallions on top.

Serves a hearty helping for 4

Home-cooked Meal
22 Feb 2013