Sunday, February 16, 2014

Passing A Good Time With Art's Jambalaya

To be sure, I've always loved Cajun/Creole cuisine, and it's been prominent in my mind since our last New Orleans trip.  Our recent visits to killer local Cajun joints (see last post) and our last NOLA-themed Posse dinner certainly whetted my appetite for more Cajun goodness.  I had long been wanting to try my hand at jambalaya and while there were countless sources from where I had could find a good recipe; I had heard about one in particular for a long time now: Art's Jambalaya.

Art was a co-worker of my bestie Kristy back in West Virginia. I had met him on a couple of occasions, but didn't know him as Kristy does and she has always adored him. Art hails from Louisiana and though he loves to travel, his heart belongs to New Orleans.  He has a powerful love for Jazz Fest in NOLA and considers it an annual "religious pilgrimage".  Art is a connoisseur of fine food, great music and new experiences.  When Art worked at the West Virginia location, he would get bored and cook enough for a small army. Apparently, his jambalaya was so beloved it gained a huge following and was requested for multiple events and gatherings.  Well, it seems, if I'm going to choose a jambalaya recipe, why not choose one from someone with NOLA in his heart and a recipe that's proven to satisfy?

At the same time, I was more than a little intimidated making a recipe so beloved.  I did have a leg up, though, thanks to our NOLA friend Tiffany who had gifted us with some andouille sausage straight from the Crescent City as well as Tony Chachere's creole seasoning.   So, off K and I went yesterday, browning the meats and chopping and chopping some more.  We followed Art's recipe nearly to the letter with the exception of two things: in order to cut expenses, we left out the shrimp and we added a hit of creole seasoning to the onions and peppers while they were sauteing.  And for the love of God, we did NOT touch the lid while it all was simmering.  One of the most gratifying aspects of cooking this dish was the outright lusty aromas it produces.  I love that the incredible aromas from cooking this dish last from the early stages to well after the dish is finished.

The result was seriously, deliciously phenomenal.  It is a rare moment when I say that something we made is the best I've ever had, but this was certainly the case.  The spice levels, the layers of flavor, the textures, well, its no wonder this dish inspires so much passion.  I had also been told that the jambalaya was even better the next day which was hard to believe after the first taste, but indeed, the flavor was that much more amazing today and Keith whipped up a buttermilk cornbread to accompany it.  Truly, it was an honor to make the jambalaya and for it to turn out so well.  So thank you, Art, for sharing.

We'll close this post with a quote from Kristy speaking of her friend Art: "Art likes to use the NOLA phrase ' pass a good time' (as he's seen here, pouring the wine and about to do just that).  And when one hangs out with Art, one always passes a good time!"


Anonymous said...

Excellent! I couldn't have said it better myself and Art will be proud! ~Kristy

Fernande said...

Art is an awesome guy and a phenomenal cook. His Bread Pudding is to die for! ~Nonnie

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