Cooking With Rod
A New Take on Fourth of July Fare
It’s almost the Fourth of July! Fireworks! Watermelon! Barbecue on the grill, hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks, ears of corn…but this year my lovely wife has a different idea (since Barbecue is sort of standard Summer fare around here).
So, this year we’re cooking up some Creole – some really mouth-watering, tasty, stomach-filling, give-me-more Creole. We have a love of all things spicy. This recipe brings on the spice in several ways: chili powder, Cajun spice, red pepper flakes, and bottled hot chili sauce. Add a small amount and taste before adding more. Remember, cooking and standing will intensify the heat! The layered flavors of spice result in a gloriously rich and tasty flavor.
This meal satisfies the eye and fills the tummy at the same time. It goes very well with all the time-honored 4th of July classics: a wonderful crispy salad with avocadoes and tomatoes, ears of corn on the cob fresh off the grill, a side of red beans with ham hock and onion can’t go wrong, corn bread in any of its best loved guises, big cold pitchers of iced tea and lemonade, and a host of desserts (which MUST, of course, include cold, fresh watermelon.)
Creole Mélange over Rice
Recipe by Melinda Cohenour - 2010
2-3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Orange Bell Pepper, diced
3-4 stalks Celery, de-string and chop in thin half-moons
1 white or yellow Onion, diced
4 or 5 cloves garlic
2 bags Shrimp, deveined and shelled (jumbo about 20-25 per lb, or medium 31-40 per lb)
1 lb boneless, skinless Chicken Strips
2 lbs. Polska Kielbasa sausage loops
Large can Tomato Juice, unsalted
2 Large can Stewed Tomatoes or 1 Large and 2 small or 4 small cans
1 cup Water
1 Tbsp. crushed Basil
1-2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1-2 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning (Emeril’s is a favorite but any classic will do)
Dash of Crushed Red Pepper flakes
Dash of bottled hot sauce (Louisiana Hot Sauce, Cholula Hot Sauce, Tabasco Hot Sauce, pick your poison and season to taste – and add only a few drops at a time)
4 cups White long-grain rice, cooked, hot and flaky (Prepare per package directions). This should make at least 8 cups rice.
8 cups Water for rice
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
Green onion tops diced for garnish
Put water on to boil. Add rice, let cook 30 minutes with lid on pot (or follow package directions). Do not lift lid, but remove from heat and let sit while preparing Creole mixture. Fluff with fork before serving.
Season chicken with spices listed reserving most of the spices for the jambalaya. Broil until cooked through and lightly browned on both sides.
Saute celery, onions, garlic, and bell pepper in hot oil in large skillet until onion is clear. Add canned stewed tomatoes and continue simmering until bell pepper and celery is tender. Add tomato juice and bring to a boil. Add cooked chicken that has been cut into bite size pieces (each strip cut into 2-3 pieces). Lower heat to simmer.
Broil Polska Kielbasa 7 minutes, flipping after 5 minutes to brown both sides. Slice into ¼- ½ inch pieces. Add to tomato-vegetable mixture. (Note: sometimes I slice the Polska Kielbasa and cook in a skillet to cause the sausage to burst and release its flavorful juices and braise in those juices. I add about ¼ cup water, cover to steam, then uncover, lower heat and let the water cook off. Permit the sausage pieces to brown on one side, then turn, add a bit more water to loosen the brown bits. Repeat. Then add sausage to large pot. With Jambalaya I do not rinse out and add the pan brownings to the pot because I want the dish to look red and fresh.)
Add shrimp, after rinsing. Bring back to boil and let cook 5 minutes or just until the shrimp have become pink and curled. Lower heat to simmer. Add last dash of chili pepper, stir and serve over rice. Do not overcook or shrimp will be tough. Add parsley – stir well. Garnish individual servings with green onion tops, chopped fine and a sprig of fresh parsley.
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