Monday, March 17, 2014

"Southern Living - The Creole Cookbook" - Ham Jambalaya for Mardis Gras!

Date I made this recipe:  March 9, 2014 (for Mardi Gras)

Southern Living – The Creole Cookbook
Published by:  Southern Living/Oxmoor House, Inc.
© 1972
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Store
Recipe:  Ham Jambalaya – p. 63 – Recipe submitted by Mrs. J.R. Hightower, Itta Bena, Mississippi

Fat Tuesday already?  The month of March is just stacked with holidays and I'm bracing for the onslaught!  Mardi Gras started on Tuesday, March 4th but I was busy that day so I made a Mardi-Gras recipe as soon as I could.  The Jewish holiday, Purim, starts on March 15th, St. Patrick's Day follows hot on its heels on March 17th and the first day of spring, should I choose to recognize it, is March 20th.  And these are just the holidays I know about!  And not that I consider this a "holiday" but daylight savings time – "Spring Forward!" - was March 9th.  Whew.  I'm exhausted already.

For this year's Mardi Gras repast, I consulted my growing collection of Southern Living Cookbooks and is there one more perfectly suited to this event than The Creole Cookbook?  No, there is not.

Although I am not a follower of this magazine, I can surmise that these cookbooks are all collections (primarily) of favorite reader recipes.  This recipe for Ham Jambalaya was submitted by Mrs. J.R. Hightower who, like other wives at the time, went by her husband's name rather than her own.  Only rarely do I see the woman's given name listed and when I do, it's likely because the woman is/was a widow; for whatever reason, reverting to a given name was absolutely acceptable after the husband died but using it beforehand was frowned upon.  Okay then!

As to the recipes, I've always said that reading cookbooks is like reading history books as you get a sense of time, place and regional differences.  This book, for instance, contains a lot of Jell-O mold desserts, some of which look appetizing, some of which don't.  For "don't" winners see a photo of Dividend Dinner – page 35, containing chunks of...stuff, or worse, Vegetable Jubilee Salad – p. 37 consisting of cubes of Jell-O containing chunks of...more stuff. (We will not discuss the Flounder Salad on page 39.  We will not.)

The "Creole Meats" chapter was a little less intimidating although I hope you understand that I passed on the Chitterlings recipe – p. 60 and the Creole Tripe - p. 63. In the "Creole Seafood" chapter, Pickled Eel with a Taste of Crawfish – p. 95 also got a pass.  But fear not, readers, because the rest of the cookbook contains some awfully good and good-sounding recipes like our featured recipe today – Ham Jambalaya.  (PS—I don't think anyone can go wrong with a good southern dessert so have at it!  Recipes are at the end of the cookbook).

Now I've made plenty of jambalaya in my day and I like jambalaya because it is easy to make and pretty flavorful; this recipe is no exception to that rule.  A dash of hot sauce and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce helped kick up the flavor profile just enough to make it interesting and delicious.

Enjoy and remember:  Laissez les bon temps roulet  - Let the good times roll!

Ham Jambalaya – 6 servings
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, mashed
1 green pepper, chopped
2 T salad oil
1 T flour
1 cup canned tomatoes
½ tsp thyme
½ bay leaf, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 cups boiling water
2 cups diced cooked ham
½ lb cleaned cooked shrimp
1 cup rice
Dash of hot sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Cook the onion, garlic and green pepper in oil in a large saucepan until tender but not browned.  Stir in the flour and cook until smooth.  Add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper and water and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the ham and shrimp.  Bring to a boil and stir in the rice, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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