funny word of the day: jambalaya
This is a Louisiana specialty that kind of resembles paella and one of many indigenous dishes to New Orleans and its environs. I happen to adore NOLA and its food (especially the oysters and beignets -- yum!) but I've actually never eaten jambalaya.
From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jambalaya):
Jambalaya is traditionally made in three parts, with meats and vegetables, and is completed by adding stock and rice. It is also a close cousin to the saffron colored paella found in Spanish culture. There are two primary methods of making jambalaya.
The first and most common is Creole jambalaya (also called "red jambalaya"). First, meat is added, usually chicken and sausage such as andouille or smoked sausage. Next vegetables and tomatoes are added to cook, followed by seafood. Rice and stock are added in equal proportions at the very end. The mixture is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the recipe, with infrequent stirring. Towards the end of the cooking process, stirring usually ceases.
The second style, more characteristic of southwestern and south-central Louisiana, is Cajun jambalaya, which contains no tomatoes. The meat is browned in a cast-iron pot. The bits of meat that stick to the bottom of the pot are what give a Cajun jambalaya its brown color. A little vegetable oil is added if there is not enough fat in the pot. The trinity (of onions, celery, and green bell pepper) is added and sautéed until soft. Stock and seasonings are added in the next step, and then the meats are returned to the pot. This mixture is then simmered, covered, for at least one hour. Lastly, the mixture is brought to a boil and rice is added to the pot. It is then covered and left to simmer over very low heat for at least 1/2 hour without stirring. The dish is finished when the rice has cooked.
A third method is less common. In this version, meat and vegetables are cooked separately from the rice. At the same time, rice is cooked in a savory stock. It is added to the meat and vegetables before serving. This is called "white Jambalaya." This dish is rare in Louisiana as it is seen as a "quick" attempt to make jambalaya, popularized outside the state to shorten cooking time.
Jambalaya is considered by most Louisianians to be a simple dish to prepare, yet filling, rice dish; gumbos, étouffées, and creoles are considered more difficult to perfect. Most often a long grain white rice is used in making jambalaya.
Jambalaya is differentiated from other traditional ethnic Louisiana dishes, such as gumbo and étouffée, by the way in which the rice is included. In the latter dishes, the rice is cooked separately and is served as a bed on which the main dish is served. In the usual method of preparing Jambalaya, a rich stock is created from vegetables, meat, and seafood. Raw rice is then added to the broth and the flavor is absorbed by the grains as the rice cooks.