Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pastalaya, with gluten free options

Pastalaya is jambalaya cooked with pasta instead of rice. My version leans toward the Cajun variety, although I do add a very small amount of tomatoes.

When a jambalaya has a "red sauce" it is considered Creole and not Cajun. And yes, there is a difference.  Creole cooking is influenced by Spanish, African, Carribbean, and some French and often has a tomato base in many of the dishes and Cajun is more French/Acadian influenced, which is more about the often glorified brown roux traditionally made with lard and flour.

While my Pastalaya doesn't have a roux base per se, if you've ever made a roux you wil see that the color and flavor comes in a similar cooking process.

Since going gluten free, I've been using Gluten Free pasta with much success.  My favorite brand is by Archer Farms, Target.  It's a sturdy noodle, that cooks much the same way as regular pasta.

If you are using wheat based pasta, you still need to use a pasta that is fairly sturdy. My favorite brand used to be Barilla in a shape called Piccolini, Mini Fusilli, a rotini will work, but try to find one that's not too large.  The larger the shape, the more likely it is to come "unraveled" if you over cook your pasta.

Okay, now that we've discussed the right pasta, let's get to how it's done.

First, brown your sausage and remove from pot.  I use a heavy porcelien enameled cast iron pot.  You want a very heavy, heat holding pot for the best results.  You can make Pastalaya with a regular pot, but you might have to cook the pasta longer.

I forgot to take a photo, of the sausage, but here's the chicken browning.  You can see the brown bits left in the pot from the sausage.

Once the chicken has browned, then move to the bowl with sausage and add the cubbed pork.  Brown it a little and then you will be able to scrape up all that brown goodness when you add the trinity-onions, celery and bell peppers.

You can leave the pork in with the addition of the trinity.  It generally benefits from some extra stewing.

You'll notice I use a flat, bamboo spoon/spatula to scrape the brown bits in the water created by the tritinty.  I am a big fan of the frozen prepared onions and trinity.  I get mine from a local Gerbes/Kroger grocery store and they call it "Miropaux mix".   Be careful when you select these as one variety has a traditional French mixture of onions, carrots and celery instead of bell peppers.

Once the onions have cooked down, then add minced garlic and the tiny bit of tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.

Then you will begin to add all the other ingredients and meat back into the pot.  Bring it to a good boil.  Taste the broth and make sure it's pretty salty and spicy if you'd like.  You want it to be saltier than you'd like at this point because the pasta is going to absorb the salt and the spice.

After you've got a good boil going on about medium high, add the pasta and stir it around.

At this point, I often add the lid and let it cook for about three minutes.  If you are concerned about how this is all going to work out, you can keep the lid off until the pasta starts to absorb the broth and just begins to get just a little bit tender.

 What you see above is the pasta at the right stage to move to the lidded step.  You can see the noodles have sucked up the juices because they have turned a little brown.

Here's where you need to have some patience and some faith.  And it may take a little trial and error on your part depending on the pot you use.

Traditionally, you would turn your fire off and place the lid on tight and let it set.  But I'm more comfortable with setting it on the lowest setting on my gas cook top for the first 10 minutes.

Then I lift the lid, see that it's nearly done and then turn the heat off and keep covered for 3 minutes.

If you find your pot is not holding heat necessary, your pasta will need to cook longer.  The one thing you do want to avoid though is your pasta getting soggy cooked instead of al dente.

Gather your friends and enjoy!!


1 1/2 Lbs. - Boneless Skinless Chicken Thigh Meat, Chopped
2 Lbs. - Andouille, (or your favorite) smoked Pork Sausage - Sliced
1 1/2 Lbs. - Boneless Pork chops,  Cubed
1 bag chopped Onions, frozen if you'd like
1/2 bag chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, frozen
3 Tablespoons of Fresh Garlic - Minced, about 5 cloves
1/2  (14.5 oz) Can Of Rotel or diced tomatoes
5 stalks Of Green Onions, Chopped
3 tablespoons Parsley Flakes
1  Tablespoons of Sweet Basil
3  Bay Leave
1 Lbs Pasta, Fusilli
5 1/2 Cups - Water or chicken stock
Dash of your Favorite Hot Sauce (Crystal or Louisiana Hot Sauce)
2 tblsp kitchen Bouquet
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon marjoram
Ms. Dash, to cover the top of the pot
Black Pepper, to taste
Cayenne Pepper, to taste
Kosher Salt, to taste
Good Dash of Tony Chachere's


Brown Sausage. Remove to bowl on side.

Brown the chicken sprinkled with Tony's seasonings then remove from pot. Place in bowl and chop once cooled.

Brown pork next. If not a tender cut, then boil down with some water till tender (about 30 minutes) and most of the water has reduced.

Next add onions, bell pepper, celery and dash of hot sauce. Let cook down on medium heat while carefully stirring to prevent sticking. Vegetables will make extra water and you can scrape the brown bits from the meats up at this time.

When almost cooked thoroughly add garlic and tomatoes and continue to cook until vegetables are wilted, add the water (4-1/2 cups) and return chicken and other meats to the pot.

Next season mixture with Tony's, bay leaves, basil, parsley flakes, pepper, garlic powder, Kitchen Bouquet and salt if necessary.

Remember that pasta will absorb the seasonings, so make sure the water tastes just a little more salty and peppery than you would like. Next, raise the heat to medium high, so water starts boiling.

Be careful that pasta does not stick together and clump. When all the pasta has softened and absorbs most of the water, lower heat to medium low and add the green onions. Stir carefully; place lid on pot for 3 minutes.

Next lift the lid, stir pot completely then replace the lid. Lower heat to very, very low and cook covered for 10 minutes.

Finally, turn the heat off, do not remove the lid, and let sit for 3 minutes. After this, lift the lid, stir the pot over, and your dish is ready to serve…………………………..Enjoy !!!

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