As well as writing poetry and articles I also love cooking. This is my own version of Jambalaya that I’ve perfected over the last few years. I like really spicy food, so please bear in mind with this recipe if you don’t like your food so hot you will need to tone down the spices when making this.
For the ham I tend to buy either ham steaks or ham ends from the supermarket which I then cut up into chunks for this recipe. I also like using chorizo, but you can use any similar type of spicy sausage for this. As a variant you can also mix some chopped up cabbage into it, though it becomes more like Spanish rice at that point…
2 medium onions cut into cubes
3-4 celery stalks sliced
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 red capsicum sliced
1 green capsicum sliced
2-3 large red chillies finely chopped*
250g ham chopped into chunks
2 chorizos sliced
1 cup of rice (I use basmati because I like the texture, but any long grain rice should do)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste (helps give it a smoother consistency)
1 cup of chicken stock (or a chicken stock cube dissolved in a cup of water)
2-3 cups of hot water
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
A few splashes of hot sauce**
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
salt and black pepper (for seasoning)
coriander leaves (optional)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Saute the onion until it is soft and clear then stir in the ham and chorizo until they are browned. Add the celery, capsicum, garlic, and chillies and stir for a couple of minutes and then stir in the rice and keep stirring it for another couple of minutes. Then add the chicken stock and the tomatoes, and after stirring again, add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, salt and pepper, hot sauce, and Cajun seasoning. Stir in some of the hot water and then reduce the heat so it is gently simmering. You can either add in most of the water and cover it and then stir it from time to time adding more water when needed, or you can keep it uncovered and slowly add water as it is needed while stirring it every few minutes. Either way works though I tend to do the latter. You can also choose to add the rice once all the stock and tomatoes have been added. I’ve done both and didn’t notice a difference.
Simmer it for around another 20-30 minutes. Keep checking to see if the rice is cooked, once it is it’s ready. Be careful not to add too much water, though the rice should eventually soak up any extra liquid. Serve with coriander leaves as a garnish. It should serve 3-4 people, depending on your serving size.
*When cutting up chillies be sure to wash your hands afterwards as the capsaicin from the chillies will eventually start burning your fingers. And also don’t rub your eyes directly after cutting them as it will sting like crazy. I know this from personal experience, as I have done this at least twice now…
**My favourite hot sauce is Crystal Extra Hot Louisiana Hot Sauce, though any hot sauce should do.