She had never eaten in company with so peculiar a gentleman before; so irascible toward the inoffensive Pompey, and so courteous to herself. But she was not ill at ease, and conducted herself properly as her mamma had taught her how.
Mr. Billy was anxious that she should enjoy her dinner, and began by helping her generously to Jambalaya. When she had tasted it she made no remark, only laid down her fork, and looked composedly before her.
Kate Chopin, “The Lilies”
Welcome to a new segment of the website I like to call Bookish Bites. Here I take books and stories that I am either currently reading or have read in the past, and I interpret the mentioning of a certain food into a full recipe. Today I am making a jambalaya inspired by Kate Chopin’s short story “The Lilies.” Not many people know of Chopin’s short stories, but I think “The Lilies” is one of her best. I found a version online if you’d like to read the full version. You can find it here.
Well, let’s get cooking!
Joe and I stopped in New Orleans last year while on our cross-country road trip, and while we were there (2 nights only!) we stopped at the Acme Oyster House. I ordered the New Orleans Trio, a platter with rice and beans, jambalaya, and gumbo, and, unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed. The flavors were muddy and too subtle, everything lacked salt, and I was sorely disappointed. Joe had the crawfish gumbo, and the fried clams and shrimp. I thought the crawfish gumbo was super fishy tasting, but then again, I had never tasted crawfish before — is that how they usually taste? If anyone can give me some insight on that it would be much appreciated. Joe loved his meal, though, including the two oyster shooters he did, and we both enjoyed the grilled oysters. I’m even going to try and recreate them at home, and I will (hopefully) post about them soon.
In the meantime, when we returned home, I was still longing for some good, spicy jambalaya, that didn’t necessarily have to be super traditional. So I headed off to Pinterest, cobbled together a couple recipes, and came up with the one below. Joe and I loved the result, but next time I will definitely have to double the recipe so we have even more leftover.
Oh and before I get comments saying that this is not traditional jambalaya, I know. I wasn’t trying to be traditional and I would never profess myself to be a bearer of traditional Cajun foods, so are we still cool?
We hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.
Quick (Not Traditional) Jambalaya (Serves 2, with leftovers)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
8 oz. smoked sausage, sliced into coins (we used Johnsonville Natural Andouille, but you can use whatever smoked sausage you like)
14 oz. canned fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups cooked rice, white or brown, whichever you prefer
1/2 lb. deveined & shelled shrimp, tails removed if you prefer
1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven, or another large pot, over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, celery and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables start to get translucent.
- Move the vegetables to the outside of the pan so you can cook the chicken, and add the rest of oil to the pan. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper, and add to the pot. Cook the chicken until it just begins to brown, about 5-7 minutes. If the chicken starts to stick when you try and move it, just let it be, it means it’s not properly browned yet.
- Add the paprika and next 7 ingredients to the pan and give it a good stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil, then cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the shrimp and cover the pot again.
After another 5 minutes (so 10 minutes total), lift the lid and stir in the rice. All you’re doing at this point is warming up the rice, so cook the mixture for only 2 more minutes, or until the rice is warmed through. Alternatively, if you’re making this with freshly cooked rice, you could serve the jambalaya on top instead of mixing the rice in. This is your kitchen, do whatever you prefer.
Top with chopped parsley, if desired, and serve.