Cajun Pastalaya

folks, dis here is some kind of good

“Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and filet gumbo,
‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see ma chère ami-o”

– opening chorus to the Hank Williams song who, by the way, was born just a few miles as the crow flies from my hometown, Greenville AL.

Jambalaya is a regional favorite in the south and the flavorful dish has aggressively caught on around the world as well. The reason is simple just as it is to make – it has a remarkable taste. There are countless variations of this classic and the first mention in English print comes from Mobile AL, where I reside. In 1878, the Ladies of the St. Francis Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Mobile published ‘The Gulf City Cook Book’, which features a recipe titled ‘Jam Bolaya’. It consists of oysters, chicken, tomatoes and the familiar rice.

Like all recipes, as time progresses, so do ingredients according to regional taste. Take the recipe I am preparing for you, Pastalaya. This recipe contains many of the same ingredients as the traditional ‘red jambalaya’ famous from Creole cooks in New Orleans and melds beautifully with its low-country Cajun cousins. Influenced from the French and Spanish with a little Italian thrown in for good company is how I would describe this amazing recipe that tastes so darn good. Enjoy!

Cajun Pastalaya
Makes about 8 servings

1/4 cup salt plus 3/4 teaspoon, divided
1 -16 oz penne pasta
3 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning, divided
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 pound Andouille or Spicy Conecuh sausage, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 -14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Add water to a large stockpot 3/4 full and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the salt as it begins to boil. Place the pasta in the water and return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook the pasta until nearly al dente, 8 to 12 minutes. Drain and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to use later.
Season the shrimp with 2 teaspoons of the Creole Seasoning and 1/8 teaspoon salt, set aside. Do the same with the chicken using 2 teaspoons of the Creole Seasoning and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt, set aside.

In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and coat the bottom, heat to medium heat. Place the shrimp in the pan and sear for 1 minute per side. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the pan and sear the chicken for 3 minutes, turning to ensure even browning. Remove the chicken and set aside with the shrimp.

Place the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and add the sausage, onions and bell peppers. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is lightly brown and the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock and scrape with a spoon to remove any browned bits that have formed, cook about 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes, fresh thyme, the remaining tablespoon of Creole Seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Return the shrimp and chicken to the pan, as well as the pasta and the reserved 1-cup of pasta cooking water. Continue to cook the sauce and pasta, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp and chicken cooks through and until most of the pasta cooking water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the basil and Parmesan. Toss to combine and serve hot with warm French bread.

Note: Made near my hometown, Conecuh brand sausage is a southern favorite.

orginally posted july 6 2009

23 thoughts on “Cajun Pastalaya

  1. Cajun Chef Ryan

    That is one great recipe you have here Drick!As we say down in the bayou….."Aieeeeeeeee"And the heavy cream put's this one over the top!Dat some good eatin, der cher!"Bon appetit!CCR=:~)

  2. Marguerite

    I'll second everything that Cajun Chef Ryan said! Looks like a fabulous recipe and it is going right on my "must try" list. Thanks for sharing, cher!!

  3. pegasuslegend

    Oh yeah baby! you got this cookin up and spicy like I like it! I can just taste the flavors of the ingredients by reading all the great additions here, going to have to be making this when it finally cools down out here! 105 in the shade today not much eating other than smoothies lol great recipe Drick~

  4. Pacheco Patty

    Another delicious recipe, my family would love this one! I thought that I would have made a visit to Alabama by this point in my life but the closest I guess I came was to Georgia or maybe Tennessee, I should look at a map;-)Anyway, I'm enjoying your recipes from the region and who knows, never say never I may make it to Alabama one day,I may just come for the food because it seems like you eat pretty well down there:-) Thanks for the Alabama golfer info, I enjoyed that!

  5. Cook with Madin

    Hi Drick, Of course I saved this in my recipe box. This sounds really awesome. Love it, love it. Especially the intro song. Love it that you can sing too, lol. You have a great weekend Drick.

  6. MaryMoh

    Oh yes, I know that song! Oh dear, now it gets stuck in my brain…..all your fault, Drick 😀 And that's lots of ingredients there. Oh yes, I notice the shrimps. I will love it 😛

  7. anniebakes

    I'm your newest follower!! From cook eat share, don't you love that site? I can't wait to have some more time to look around at your recipes, they look fabulous!! have a great weekend,

  8. Kathy Gori

    Amazing Drick! This looks great. I just found out the other day while doing family research that my great great grandfather immigrated to New Orleans in 1832. From there he went to Californina for the Gold Rush. I never knew we had that New Orleans connection. I need to learn more about the food.

  9. Kristen

    So, if I am a spice wimp, what kind of sausage could I use instead of Andouille? Or is that sacrilege? Is it better to abstain than to mess with tradition?

  10. Drick

    Thanks everyone…@Kate – Okra would be good but I would make sure it remained crisp @Kristen – Cook what you eat! there is no voodoo on this recipe…. use any sausage that you like, the spicier the better or add a little red pepper if you can take it…good eating to all…

  11. Chef Dennis

    cajun food can be magical, one of my mentors taught me to love the blending of cajun into other types of foods…you have done such a wonderful job doing just that with this great dish! and now I have old Hank on the mind!


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