By Kathryn Zahn
When I first found out that I was going to be tasting and writing about the recipe Ham Jambalaya I was so excited because what immediately came to my mind was one-pot dinner. After working all day, picking up two kids from different schools, and trying to have dinner on the table for them and my husband by six, an easy recipe for dinner is always what I am looking for.
When I think of southern or Cajun jambalaya I think: chicken, shrimp, sausage, ham, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, celery…you know hearty and full of meats, vegetables, and rice; and as I jotted down the recipe at the end of the day before I ran into Publix, I knew with a sinking feeling that the dinner that I had planned on was not going to be enough food for them.
My intention is not to give this recipe a bad review, it is more for us to sit back and say, “Yeah, sometimes the recipes we pick don’t go as planned or taste like we would want them too…but that’s ok.” We learn through trial and error and they can’t all be perfect, right?
What this dish really consists of is 2 cooking onions, 2 cups of canned tomatoes, 1 cup of rice, and 1 cup of ham. Now if you do the math that is just a little over 4 cups. I put a scoop onto each of my kid’s plate and what you see in the bowl is all that was left for my husband and me. I ended up having to make each of them a salad, threw in some buttered bread, a big glass of milk, and then dessert. My husband ate what I served him and then proceeded to dig around in the refrigerator for more food.
The overwhelming ingredient in this dish is the canned tomatoes. If you love canned tomatoes, then you’ll love this dish. If you don’t, then most likely you won’t. We prefer fresh in our house. Canned tomatoes just have this distinct taste and it doesn’t matter how long you sauté them or what you sauté them in, they have a tendency to overpower the other flavors of the dish. Aside from this, my husband and I probably would have liked it more if more bacon was called for. In addition to using the grease, crumbling and adding the bacon to the dish would also add a little extra flavor to it. I also didn’t see the need to bake the dish for 30-40 minutes. If you simmered down the tomatoes, most of the liquid should be gone, so I am not sure what the extra time was needed for. I tasted it before and after the baking and to me it was exactly the same.
My kids loved this dish. If you have children and they eat rice, it was easy to make and I am certain that they will love it too.
It says 4-6 servings, and as a side dish then yes, I would agree to that. I don’t really have any recommendations as where to serve this dish; maybe at a potluck get together where there are a lot of different dishes to sample and taste. As for a dinner, we like to focus around protein and vegetables. The little bit of ham that it calls for was not enough for us, so it needs a complimentary meat as well as another vegetable or salad.
Keep in mind after reading this that not every recipe is for everyone. If you love these ingredients, then by all means cook away…you won’t be disappointed. As for us…I’ll be waiting for my next assignment… Bon Appétit!
Ham Jambalaya (The Gasparilla Cookbook, p. 111)
- 2 slices of bacon
- ½ clove garlic
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 cups canned tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 cup chopped or ground ham, ground preferred
Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain. Saute garlic and onion in bacon drippings. Add tomatoes and parsley. Season with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer 15 minutes. Add rice and ham and mix well. Bake in casserole in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Serves 4-6.