With another resounding victory, Jambalaya has been crowned as the ultimate tailgating dish.
As I've said numerous times, this isn't really all that a surprise -- aside from being in the pantheon of Cajun/Creole dishes that almost anybody that knows anything about Louisiana can name, jambalaya works perfect for a tailgate. It's fun to cook, easy to customize, goes a long way in feeding big groups and can even be fairly economical in a pinch.
Your favorite recipe is probably your own, or somebody else in your family. All it takes is one pot, and your favorite meats, plus some good smoked sausage. Some use chicken, some use ham or tasso, others even add seafood. Personally, I like to stay consistent, so I usually go with some diced pork along with my sausage. From there, make it yours.
Some like to use tomatoes. Some think that's an abomination. I see both sides, and if you want to get really fancy, some of the better jambalayas I've ever tasted from some of the top chefs in Louisiana do use them.
For a tailgate, it usually pays to do most of your prep work -- chopping, dicing meat, etc...the night before, but all it takes is one pot, which is yet another reason why jambalaya is so perfect for a tailgate and also useful in a pinch. Got some leftover chicken, ham, what have you? Sauté some onions and peppers down, throw it in, some chicken stock, rice and boom, there you go. It'll likely still be passable.
In the spirit of the championship, here are a couple of top-shelf recipes for you to try out, especially if jambalaya is a new dish for you:
- Our own specialty: the Jambalayathan, which features smoked pork, hot peppers, two kinds of sausage and beer as part of the steaming liquid for the rice. Not for the faint of heart.
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's creole version, which, having tried it at K-Paul's in New Orleans, is legit.
- Or, if you're feeling really adventurous, there's this John Besh recipe, which features bacon, chicken, two kinds of sausage AND shrimp.