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Great Jumpin’ Jambalaya

Cone and Snyder are cookbook authors.

It is commonly believed that the name for the delicious concoction called Jambalaya comes from jambon , the French word for ham , and ya , an African word for rice . This may not be true (the word jambalaia is found in southern France), but both ham and rice are prominent in Louisiana’s cooking.

They are essential for Jambalaya, but as for the rest of the ingredients, every recipe differs. Other meats and/or fish are added depending on their availability and the cook’s pocketbook and taste. In this recipe we have added scallops, shrimp and a bit of cubed chicken breast.

The eclectic ethnic background and rich, spicy, stew-y flavor of Jambalaya make it appealing to most folks. The best testimonial that we can give came when we prepared the dish as guests at an early morning television show. After the show was over, the crew devoured the dish in minutes. We also discovered that this dish reheats very well, which was one reason we chose to prepare it on television. We cooked a back-up dish the day before and reheated it at the TV studio.

The same preparation works great for company. When served with a simple salad, such as Mixed Greens With Pecan Vinaigrette, and some crusty bread, it makes a delicious and easy meal for entertaining.

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If you prefer a really hot dish, you may want to increase the quantity of cayenne pepper.

JAMBALAYA

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

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2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried oregano

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1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

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2 cups long-grain rice

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups canned clam juice or chicken broth

1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, chopped, liquid reserved

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1/2 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

1/2 pound scallops

1/2 pound lean ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 pound smoked sausage, such as kielbasa or lower-fat turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices and then halved or quartered depending on diameter

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1/2 cup chopped parsley

Combine oil and garlic in 4-quart microwave-proof casserole. Add onions and celery. Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap turned back slightly on 1 side. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 3 minutes.

Stir in bay leaf, oregano, thyme, pepper, salt and cayenne. Stir in rice to coat well with seasonings. Stir in chicken. Add clam juice and tomatoes with liquid. Cover and microwave on HIGH until liquid is boiling, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in shrimp, scallops, ham and sausage. Cover and microwave on HIGH until liquid is once again boiling, about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and stir well. Re-cover and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) until most of liquid is absorbed and rice is al dente, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once. Let dish stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. Makes 8 servings.

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If you don’t have pecans or prefer not to add nuts to your salad, eliminate them and you’ll still have a tasty dressing with the zip of Dijon mustard.

MIXED GREENS WITH PECAN VINAIGRETTE

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup wine vinegar

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2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

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8 cups greens (such as red-leaf lettuce, curly endive, watercress, romaine and/or radicchio), washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces

Combine olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and pecans in jar and shake well. Chill until serving time and shake again.

Place greens in salad bowl. Toss with dressing just before serving. Makes 8 servings.


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