Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Texas-Style Gulf Coast Jambalaya

My husband, of course, knows how much I love Mexican, southwestern, Tex-Mex, and authentic Texas cooking—and eating—so for my birthday recently, he came home with Dean Fearing’s The Texas Food Bible (Crescent-Fearing, L.P., 2013). Wonderful stuff, with info, insights, and anecdotes that read as much like a novel as a cookbook.

One of Fearing’s recipes, East Texas Seafood Jambalaya, highlights the ample seafood and rice production in Texas, both important industries in the eastern part of the state. And with Louisiana just next door, a bit of Bayou influence is unmistakable in the sausages (andouille is a must) and spices for jambalaya. Fearing includes shrimp, oysters, and crabmeat in his recipe, as well as andouille and lean pork, cooked in a bit of bacon fat.

For my own version, I used only shrimp along with bacon and two styles of andouille—one as a sausage in casing and the other sold in bulk, which I pinched into small pieces. I used both types simply for a variance in texture, but you can skip the bulk and buy a heavier sausage link, if you prefer.

Tip: To cut the andouille link into “half-moon” slices, first cut the sausage into about three-inch pieces, then cut those pieces lengthwise in half. Now you can cut each crosswise into half-moons.

Andouille Sausage Link 
Half-Moon Slices
Since genuine Texas rice isn’t easy to find in my Midwestern town, I substituted that other long-grain, nutty-flavored white rice, basmati. California long-grain white rice would be fine too.

Regardless of the ingredients, I view jambalaya as a southern version of paella. Both are dishes you build layer upon layer into a spectacular finished one-pot meal. I know it's tasty in east Texas. And from 1,200 miles north, I think this one turned out pretty darn good too.

Serves 5-6

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/2-lb andouille sausage link, cut into thin, half-moon slices
  • 1/4 lb bulk andouille, pinched into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco or Texas Pete hot sauce, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup long-grain white rice, soaked in water 30 minutes and drained
  • 1-3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 lb medium shrimp (26-30 count), peeled, deveined, and cut lengthwise in half
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced (both white and green parts)
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • lemon and lime wedges and salted radish slices, for serving
Jambalaya Vegetables
Prepared Ingredients 
Ready to Cook
  1. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the bacon, both andouille sausages, onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapenos and cook, stirring frequently, until the sausage browns and the vegetables often, 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf) and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes are soft, 5-6 minutes.
  3. Stir in the rice and cook 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 15 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and cook until just cooked through and the liquid is absorbed, 3-4 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
Sausage Mixture Beginning to Cook 
Tomatoes Added 
Rice Stirred In
Broth Added 
Liquid Nearly Absorbed 
Shrimp Added
Cooked Jambalaya
Divide the jambalaya among 5-6 shallow bowls and garnish with scallions and parsley. Serve with lemon and lime wedges, sliced radishes, and extra hot sauce at the table.

Texas-Style Gulf Coast Jambalaya

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