Brew, Gorgeous Stew
By Joshua Ploeg
Like the Big Easy, New Orleans
jambalaya can be a bit mysterious, even a little dangerous. The experience
will be different
every time, even
drastically so, depending on where y’at. Pretty much anything,
even alligator (mock, of course), could be in the mix. Mine includes
some ingredients perhaps more associated with gumbo. Don’t
let that fool you. This stew is certainly representative of the excitement,
hominess and flair of beloved NOLA.
Eat this meal and think about how the city will soon be back to its
historical and crazy self. That’s essential to all of us. Also think
how a little ingenuity and a new focus on resolving poverty in this country
prevent or at least buffer a future horrendous disaster down in the Delta.
Jambalaya and gumbo come from poor roots—it’s “what ya got?”-style
cookin’. Jambalaya may have been an accident but it’s a beautiful
one, and this style has had an obvious impact on my cookery, for sure. Every
experience I’ve had in New Orleans I cherish now, good and bad. I also
treasure both the friendliness and the tension that make it such a unique place.
I dedicate this column to all my friends down there. Those who won’t be
going back and those who will, Godspeed and good fortune on whatever y’all
decide to do and whatever you need, always feel free to ask.
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 White Onions, minced
1 Large Jalapeno, minced
2 Fresno Chilis, minced
Handful each of Marjoram, Cilantro and Oregano
1 Carrot, peeled and chopped
1 Yellow, Red and Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 lb. Vegan Sausage, chopped
1 lb. Vegan Chicken, chopped
1 Eggplant, diced
2 Tomatoes, diced
1 lb. Okra, cut (frozen works well)
1⁄2 C. Olive Oil
2 Bay Leaves
2 t. Paprika
1⁄2 t. Allspice
1 1⁄2 t. Chili Powder
1⁄2 t. Cloves, ground
1⁄2 t. Coriander, ground
2 Pinches of Cinnamon
Cayenne, Onion Powder, Salt and Black Pepper to taste
2 T. Tomato Paste
Louisiana Hot Sauce and Smoky Chili sauce to taste
Tamari or Kitchen bouquet
Water or Broth as needed
1. Begin by sautéing bay leaves, onions and garlic in olive oil with
a pinch of salt in a big pot.
2. Add carrot, tomato, chili peppers and eggplant, with half of the herbs and
spices. Stir, add a bit of water or broth and some of the hot sauce and cook
for five minutes with a lid on.
3. Add the fake meats to this and some browning sauce or tamari. Cook stirring
for a couple of minutes.
4. Stir in some more water and the tomato paste. Now add everything else and
cook, stirring for 20 minutes, adding more water/ broth or seasonings as required.
5. Serve with some dirty rice.
For exciting rice, cook basmati with bay leaves, salt and pepper, chilis, onion,
garlic, herbs, allspice and whatever else. Fry some soy chorizo in olive oil
with salt and pepper, some allspice and a sweet, smoky hot sauce. Add some
peppers and more onions and garlic to the mix. When the rice is cooked, stir
the skillet with the “sausage” and other stuff and toss and cook
briefly until it’s down and dirty, and then laissez les bons temps
Recipe of the month, tour information and occasional diatribe: www.webspawner.com/users/joshuaplague.
Contact Joshua at firstname.lastname@example.org. His cookbooks are available at www.krecs.com.