A Taste of Cajun Cookery

Island Epicure


A woman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana submitted a recipe for Jambalaya that appeared in an old cookbook, River Road Recipes published in 1962.  “Jambe” is the French word for “leg” or “ham” but this woman’s recipe featured beef and bacon. It had lots of rice in it. Okay, I thought, I will make a “Jambalaya” using a meat common to Louisiana:  Shrimp.
But in case you happen to have beef, you can make Louisiana resident Mrs. W. R. Smith’s so-called Jambalaya. I have adjusted the amounts of the ingredients to produce a dish that will serve four people, instead of the original six to eight in Mrs. Smith’s recipe below.

4 servings
12 ounces sausage or beef, salted and peppered
2 Tablespoons bacon drippings if beef is used
1 ½ Tablespoons flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced parsley
½ bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon red pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon salt

Brown the meat in the bacon drippings in a heavy black pot. Remove meat and add flour. Brown the flour, while stirring, to a dark roux. Add remaining ingredients, including browned meat.
When the pot boils, reduce the heat to very low and cover it tightly. When the rice is done, remove the cover and let the food cook a little longer until the rice dries out a bit.

Serves 3
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup okra chunks
½ large onion, chopped
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato puree
1 bay leaf broken into bits
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 teaspoon crushed garlic.  Or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
15 large cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp or prawns
Or 15 ounces small shrimp
Dash or two cayenne pepper

In a large skillet, stir-cook okra and onions in coconut oil until onions are shiny and limp.
Add remaining ingredients, except shrimp. Bring to a simmer. Add shrimp and heat about 5 minutes. Serve over cooked long grain rice of your choice.

Both my son Steve and my grandson James proclaimed our Shrimp Jambalaya superb, a dish to remember and repeat. Cooking the rice separately and spooning the Jambalaya sauce over it allowed us to appreciate each of the flavors better, or so I  thought.  A fruit salad completed our meal and served in lieu of a dessert.