Thursday, July 2, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Jambalaya, Maltese Style

About four years ago i posted the recipe for Ma’s Ross il-Forn.
That’s baked rice, Maltese style.
Maltese comfort food.

Over the years Ma served us many platters of Ross il-Forn.
And we loved eating it.
But Ma was also open to new recipes.
Especially after she started watching the cooking shows.

Because of Emeril Ma really got curious about New Orleans and its food.
When a southern style recipe was in the newspaper, she’d clip it.

If the recipe called for things she normally had, she would follow it.
If the recipe had ingredients she didn’t have, she would improvise.
Well, to be honest, sometime she made changes just for the heck of it.

Somehow it always tasted good.

One recipe which Ma adapted and enjoyed was Jambalaya.
It seems to be a distant relative of Maltese Ross il-Forn.
Rice cooked with some really good stuff.
What could be better?

There’s a bit of confusion over how Jambalaya got its name.
One tale says that a traveller told an innkeeper: Jean, balayez!
Loosely translated: "Jean, sweep something together!"
Not very appetizing.

Another says that the Atakapa tribe originally called it Sham, pal ha! Ya!
"Be full, not skinny!  Eat Up!" 
Can’t you just picture a Mom saying that as her family sat down to dinner?
Much, much better!


The original recipe called for 6 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced.
Ma couldn’t find Andouille sausage at the A&P in College Point.
So she crossed that out and used 4 ounces of bacon (not maple flavoured) instead.
She also made it with Italian sausages, when she had a couple to spare.
Sometimes she would scoop them out of Sunday’s tomato sauce.
A bit of extra tomato sauce and spices never hurt.

Ma didn’t have hot pepper sauce in her kitchen.
And she sure wasn’t about to buy a bottle for the 1/2 teaspoon called for in the recipe.
Instead she used 1 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

The recipe called for medium shrimp, peeled and deveined.
Ma used what she had.
Sometimes she’d use half cooked chicken breast and half shrimp.


In a dutch oven heat  over medium-high heat
2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Cup onion, chopped  
1 Cup red or green bell pepper, chopped (or a mix of both)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 ounces of bacon, chopped
Fry 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

1 Cup long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano, dried 
1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried 
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

1 bay leaf
2 Cups chicken broth
3/4 Cup water
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika 
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
Bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. 

1/2 pound shrimp
4 Tablespoons parsley, dried
Cover and cook 5 minutes. 
Turn off heat.
Let stand 5 minutes. 
Discard bay leaf. 
Check for seasoning and that the rice is cooked thoroughly.

Serve hot, with a salad or cooked vegetable.

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