Bust out the accordion, the clarinet, and the trombone, because we are throwing a New Orleans-style dance party, preferably in the street!
Of course, if your outdoor temperature du jour is a “Feels Like” of 11 degrees F like mine, feel free to get funky in the heated comfort of your kitchen—exactly what I did after taking my first bite of Cajun Jambalaya.
I suspect that you and I share the deep bond of taking particular holiday essentials quite seriously, namely THE FOOD. Every holiday has its traditional culinary charms and cherished reasons to indulge: Thanksgiving stuffing; Christmas cookies, cookies, and cookies; classy New Year’s Eve hors d’oeuvres; Super Bowl (yes, I consider the Super Bowl a holiday) chili; Valentine’s chocolate; and what would a birthday be without cake?
Given the importance of food to a proper celebration, what better holiday to provide with the edible attention it deserves than the one whose very name flaunts permission to happily load (and re-load) our forks: FAT TUESDAY.
As a tribute to Fat Tuesday (which is next week for any of you who don’t habitually seek excuses for theme meals, as I do) and to New Orleans, the city of Mardi Gras repute where dancing in the street is both appropriate and encouraged, I have a soulful, straightforward Cajun Jambalaya recipe for you.
My Cajun Jambalaya recipe begins as a smooth trombone number—its fragrant scent lures us to come closer, to relax, and to prepare ourselves to enjoy. Next, comes sudden bursts of musical energy. The volume rises, and we’re hit with chunky, flavorful pieces of pink shrimp, spicy Andouille, rich tomato, and bell pepper. Finally, our trombonist goes into an all-out free style: cayenne, hot sauce, thyme, and oregano are boogieing down on our tongues, and we’re feelin’ the beat.
Give in, get up, and dance! Cajun Jambalaya is a party in a pot.
Now that I have you under the influence of rhythmic flavor and jazz, I will break this next news to you gently: Cajun Jambalaya—our Fat Tuesday celebratory meal—isn’t actually, well, fat. It is packed with healthy protein (the recipe calls for chicken sausage, plus our friend shrimp), fiber-rich brown rice, and bright bell peppers and tomatoes. One bite, and you will wish that every healthy meal were as deceptively delectable as Cajun Jambalaya. With its crescendo of herbs and spices, hearty pieces of protein, and super-sticky-good rice, Cajun Jambalaya doesn’t miss a moment of celebration.
Plus, since this healthy Cajun Jambalaya recipe is prepared in a single pot, you can put the time you saved washing dishes towards a dance encore…or a third slice of King Cake. It is Fat Tuesday after all.
adapted from Amelia Durand