A black pot of Cajun Pork Jambalaya is a defining Cajun recipe that speaks the language of Louisiana. But as is the case with many Louisiana dishes, there are two distinctly different styles of jambalaya in Louisiana–Creole and Cajun.
Perhaps, it is this Cajun recipe that most defines the two culinary cultures. The point is that Creole jambalaya includes tomatoes while traditional Cajun pork jambalaya does not. On the other hand, a Cajun recipe for jambalaya has a smoky, spicy flavor that originates from readily available smokehouse meats along with access to fresh-killed poultry or the bounty of the swamp. These are the building blocks of a tasty jambalaya and improvisation results in innovative combinations that become classics.
I’ve discovered that one key to great Cajun pork jambalaya is to sauté and brown all of the ingredients–meats and vegetables–in a cast-iron pot. This is what gives a Cajun recipe for jambalaya its bronze color and rich flavor. In addition, I like to deglaze the pot with beer before adding the stock and long-grain rice.
But to become a jambalaya master, it is important to start first with a basic rural Cajun pork jambalaya. In all Cajun cooking, this is a dish you will always see at a traditional French Acadian boucherie–the slaughtering of a whole hog. Armed with fresh pork, a variety of smoked sausages along with vegetables, herbs and spices, this Cajun recipe will introduce you to the fundamental principles. Soon you will be ready to jump into jambalaya cooking to explore the delicious depth of Cajun cooking.
- 4 strips of smoked bacon, chopped
- 2 cups diced onion
- 2 cups diced celery
- 2 cups diced green bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 cups sliced smoked pork sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup sliced andouille sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup diced tasso
- 1 cup diced ham
- ½ cup beer
- 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup diced green onion tops
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- Dash of hot sauce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups uncooked Louisiana long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- In a large, heavy cast-iron pot with a heavy lid over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon, chop into pieces and save for later.
- Add the onions, celery, and bell pepper to the bacon drippings. Cook until translucent and add the garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes and then remove the vegetables to a platter.
- In the same pot, add the sausages, tasso, and ham. Continue to sauté until the meats turn brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Deglaze the pot by pouring in the beer and scraping the bits from the bottom of the pot while stirring.
- Add the bacon pieces, all of the browned vegetables, parsley, and green onions. Add the cayenne and a couple of shakes of hot sauce along with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Add the rice to the pot and stir until evenly distributed. Add the stock and stir again.
- Here is the important point of jambalaya cooking – cover the pot and place in the hot oven for 1 hour. Open a cold beer and forget about it. Do not stir or even raise the lid on the pot for the first hour. In that hour, all the flavors are coming together, and the rice is gently cooking.
- At the end of 1 hour, take a peek, but do not stir (or it will become sticky and starchy). Make sure most of the stock has been absorbed and take a taste to see if the rice is cooked to at least al dente. If so, turn off the oven, cover the pot and let it continue cooking in the carryover heat of the oven for another 20 minutes.
- When your guests are seated, remove the pot from the oven and place in the middle of the table. Uncover and dig in. Oh, and be sure to have lots of French bread and ice-cold beer.
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