There are several dishes I like to make lots of, so I can freeze some for lunch. Jambalaya, chili, red beans and rice, lentil soup with brown rice and venison stew are some of my favorites, and jambalaya always makes a tasty, healthy lunch.
by Leon Pantenburg
I learned about jambalaya when I lived in the south. I like rice in just about anything, and the combination of vegetables, rice and game meat are particularly good. I also liked mixing game meat, and would frequently combine squirrel with duck and/or venison (depending how the hunting season was going for me.)
Jambalaya is a Cajun dish that originated in the bayous of southern Louisiana. The word is said to be a compound word of Jambon from the French meaning “ham,’ and Aya meaning “rice” in African, as there were many slaves in the Louisiana at the time.
Common belief is that it originated from the Spanish Paella, which has also transformed in the United States to a dish called Spanish Rice. Jambalaya is a bit different many times as it incorporates seafood , ham, link sausage rounds and chicken, although it doesn’t have to have all those ingredients.
It can be made (separately or all together) with ham, chicken, sausage, fresh pork, shrimp and oysters, to which is added shortening, rice, onion, garlic, pepper and other seasonings.
Starting with church fairs, which were the largest public gatherings at the turn of the century, jambalaya emerged from small quantity indoor cooking to become the ideal dish for outdoor cooking over hardwood fire. Big black cast iron pots made preparation so easy and economical for church use that jambalaya was rapidly adapted for political rallies, weddings, family reunions and other affairs. According to the Online Etymology dictionary 1872, from Louisiana Fr., from Prov. jambalaia “stew of rice and fowl.”
This recipe will serve about 20.
Squirrel and Rabbit Jambalaya
2 squirrels, cut in large pieces
2 rabbits, cut in large pieces
10 large onions
1 bunch celery, including leaves
2 bell peppers
1 pod garlic
1/2 bunch parsley
1 bunch green onions
2 pounds chicken gizzards
9 – 8-inch links of andouille and/or hot smoked sausage
salt, pepper and red pepper to taste
water 2 16-ounce cans mushrooms
5 pounds rice
Chop all vegetables, holding out half the parsley and all the green onion tops to add at the end. Season meat, then brown with a little grease in a Large cast iron pot. Remove the meat from the pot, and add vegetables to the grease. Cook, stirring frequently, until the veggies are cooked down and brown, about two hours. Add one gallon of water, stir, scrapping all the brown off the bottom of the pan.
After cooking several minutes more, check seasoning. Return squirrel meat to the pan, and cook another 30 minutes, then return the rest of the meat to the pot and enough water to cover. Cook about one hour, until tender, check seasoning, and add to taste. Add mushrooms, onion tops and parsley and cook 10 more minutes. Add rice, and cook covered, stirring abut five minutes. Add water if necessary and cook until done, about 15 minutes. (Recipe appeared in Camouflage Cuisine: Wild Game & Seafood Cookery of the South)
By request – here is a video showing one way to skin a squirrel.