Tag Archives: New Orleans

The Jambalaya Shoppe–Gonzales, LA

One of my favorite things while traveling is hunting for great food. A chef friend told me Gonzales is jambalaya country and if you believe what the water tower says, Gonzales is the jambalaya capital of the world. I’m happy to announce that I have found some delicious jambalaya at The Jambalaya Shoppe.

My research revealed this little gem and I was pretty certain that I was in for a treat as these restaurants are popping up around south Louisiana. We opted for a bucket of chicken and sausage jambalaya and since the weather was nice, we ate at one of the two picnic tables in the parking lot.

I do have to admit that this is the second restaurant in the region I have eaten at over the past couple of days that wasn’t spicy. I love spicy food, and we don’t have many options for fire eating in Shreveport. I’ve always been told I have to go south for sinteringly hot cuisine–maybe this is reserved for New Orleans. Regardless, I happened upon a gem.

The original location is not much more than a shack–typically a good sign when you are searching for deliciousness. That standard holds true in this case. The sausage was delightfully scabbed, and the morsels of chicken were plenty. And the flavor profile? It held a subtle complexity that I will explore again this evening. I was ravenous at lunch and didn’t thoughtfully enjoy this delight, but I’ll savor it tonight.

My only complaint is that it needed heat. Naturally, I added Tabasco, but I would have appreciated more heat. Make that two complaints–we do not have a Jambalaya Shoppe here in Shreveport. I hope my second complaint is properly addressed soon.

Mustard Greens…And Don’t Toss That Potlikker

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My initial title for this piece was going to be Infernal greens because there was no way something so bitter smelling could turn out so sweet.

I have spent a lifetime avoiding greens. Sometimes my mom would make them, but I can’t remember eating them. It was one of the rare foods that I wasn’t coerced into eating. I think the other one was sauerkraut.

Two years ago I ate dinner at Emeril’s in New Orleans. Believe me, it wasn’t on my dime. I don’t think I can ever afford that.

Our host ordered a couple of appetizers. I remember the sausage presented neatly on a small bed of turnip greens. I decided I would try a bite and was impressed at how delicious they were! They actually had a texture of chewing tobacco without the full-bodied Redman flavor.

I haven’t eaten greens since.

My wife brought home some mustard greens yesterday, so in the spirit of frugality, I decided I would cook them. It took an hour to clean the greens and they smelled horrible. What is the deal with cruciferous vegetables and their stink? I’m told most people eat with their eyes. Not me. I eat with my nose. If my nose gives it thumbs down, it’s not edible.

Once I had everything cleaned and chopped, I began my greens experiment. I had read numerous recipes, but the two that were the most helpful belonged to Emeril’s (I’d like to get a repeat performance of the last ones I ate) and Miz Chef. I’m writing down my recipe so I can share it if it tastes good and to rail against it if it’s like eating a pot of rat poison.

Ingredients:
2-3 pounds mustard greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices salt pork, chopped
2 ounces Tasso, chopped
1 onion
1 tablespoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
2 teaspoons molasses

Method:
Wash and chop stems out of the greens. Add meat and olive oil to cook and to render fat.

Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent. Add cayenne, black pepper, vinegar and molasses. Mix well to combine.

Begin adding greens. As they wilt, add more until all are in the pot.

Add water until greens are just covered. Partially cover pot with lid and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.

Add salt to taste.

Next time I’m going to cook up a bigger batch to render more broth, or potlikker. It’s better than the greens and they rock.

Red Beans and Rice

There is nothing better than spicy Louisiana cuisine. I like it all. Gumbo may be the state cuisine, but I’m sure red beans and rice run a close second.

Wikipedia states that the red bean originated in Haiti. I spent two weeks there and we ate diri am pwa like it was going out of style. Everyday, lunch was diri ak pwa, the Haitian version of red beans and rice. To add variation to lunch, I added scotch bonnet sauce, ketchup, Tabasco, anything. Americans are so spoiled. We rarely eat the same meal twice in a week. Haitians eat what they can get. They don’t have the luxury of variety.

I need variety and it definitely shows in my cooking. My beans vary each time I cook them. It all depends on what I have on hand. I tried to get some beef bones yesterday to render out the delicious marrow, but I had to settle for pork shank. I’ve also used ham hocks. I think they are pig knuckles. They taste great.

I decided to write down today’s recipe in case I want to recreate it. (Who am I kidding, this is probably the last time I see it).

Ingredients:

2 oz finely diced Tasso
1 slice smoked ham shank
1 link smoked sausage
1 12 oz Pictsweet seasoning blend
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 cup Bordeaux (or any other red wine)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (Gebhardt brand)
1 tablespoon beef base

Method:

Soak beans overnight.

Heat Dutch oven and brown ham shank. Dice the Tasso and the smoked sausage. Add to pot and add EVOO.

Once browned, add the Pictsweet chopped vegetables. I hate using frozen vegetables because they steam while you try to sauté them. When I am feeling puny, though, I’ll take the occasional shortcut.

Add bay leaves, minced garlic, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, thyme, oregano, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce.

Sauté until onions are translucent. Add red wine to deglaze pot (if the steaming veggies haven’t done so already).

Add beans and fill pot with water and cover.

Simmer beans for approximately one hour with occasional stirring. Remove shank. Dice meat and return to pot. Add beef base.

Cover and simmer approximately 30 minutes. Smash about 1/4 cup of beans against side of pot with wooden spoon to give a creamy consistency and season to taste.

Serve over rice with some crusty French bread.