Creole Ham, Sausage, and Shrimp Jambalaya

 

Since Gonzales, a small Cajun town between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, proclaims itself "The Jambalaya Capital of the World" and sponsors a major festival and cooking competition every June, don't even suggest to any of the locals that this legendary rice dish is considered by many to be a hallmark of Creole cookery. What matters is that the name itself derives from the French jambon, and that some form of ham continues to be the main ingredient of jambalaya even when crawfish or shrimp, poultry, or even game is added to the elaborate dish. Cajuns will tell you that no jambalaya is authentic unless it contains tasso, a highly seasoned local ham rarely found outside Louisiana. Nor are you likely to encounter any jambalaya in the region that doesn't also boast a spicy, smoked pork sausage such as andouille or kielbasa. The best I can determine is that my jambalaya would be classified as Creole by virtue of the fact that it has no tomatoes.   

What you will need

2 oz. salt pork, cut into pieces

4 medium onions

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. cooked ham, chopped

1/2 lb. spicy smoked sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 bay leaves

2 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain rice

5 cups water

1 lb. fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined

Tabasco sauce

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