After hearing The Catholic Foodie talk John Besh's cookbook, My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking, I requested it from the library. I’m always up for a book that encourages people to cook with their families on a regular basis, usually with basic recipes that can be adapted.
The book is all that with gorgeous photography added. Although not as long and more oriented to New Orleans style cooking, this book really reminded me of Julia Child’s The Way to Cook. Both have an easy-going, instructional quality that doesn’t stress too much over details while giving you the tools (and general recipes) to find your own way in the kitchen. I’ve certainly gotta give Besh full props for not being afraid to show his two boys proudly holding two just-killed wild birds or showing a just dead chicken. Way to reconnect us to where food really comes from. I like it.
I was particularly interested in the Sausage and Pork Jambalaya and the Eggplant Dressing, although the Stuffed French Toast (stuffed with Nutella) seemed a bit over the top. Full disclosure, I am not really a fan of French Toast, but that’s another story.
As it turns out the Pork & Sausage Jambalaya is absolutely delicious. And simple. I am giving it as a sample to lure you into trying the book for yourself.
Now that I am rereading the recipe, I see that I should have used only half the bell pepper instead of the whole thing. However, that is what's so great about these recipes. Adapt at will, just as the people who came up with it would. They used what they had.
Also, I am confessing here and now that when I saw the recipe called for 3 cups of rice, I should have known it was to feed a large number of people. We have a lot in the freezer as a result.
Pork & Sausage Jambalaya
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 pound smoked pork sausage, sliced (I used kielbasa)
3 cups uncooked converted Louisiana white rice (I used plain long-grain rice ... again, it's what I had)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce or canned chopped tomatoes
2 cups diced cooked pork (I had none on hand so bought a few pork chops, diced them and sauteed the meat in the bacon fat.
3 green onions, chopped
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until the fat is rendered about 3 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until browned. Add the bell pepper, celery, and sausage. Cook, stirring, for another 3 minutes, then add the rice, paprika, thyme, and red pepper flakes.
Increase the heat to high and add the chicken broth and tomato sauce, then the pork and green onions. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 18 minutes. Remember the pork and sausage are already cooked, you're only making the rice at this point. Remove the pot from the heat and it's ready to serve! Season with salt and Tabasco. (We didn't need either. It was superb.)