Friday, 15 February 2008

Of blackbirds and jambalaya

This is not the greatest photo in the world, but this particular crab apple tree (it's called Red Sentinel) is rather hard to photograph, so it'll have to do.

Several mornings this week, gazing out of the window while getting dressed, I've noticed a male blackbird pecking away at the apples.

Now we know these apples must taste pretty nasty, since it's mid-February, and the tree is still loaded with apples. Anything nice has been scoffed long since. So a tree loaded with food, even nasty food, is a valuable asset.

The routine has been the same for several mornings. A few minutes after Mr Blackbird gets stuck in, a second one appears and chases him off. Clearly, the second bird owns the tree, (and I thought I did!) and the first one is a neighbour and interloper. It's quite entertaining to watch, particularly as it keeps happening. A sort of blackbird scrumper!

OK, so as not to let up on the food front, here's what I cooked last night. Jenny did ballet last night instead of Wednesday, so I cooked. I did a smoked sausage jambalaya.

1 Matteson's smoked pork sausage, in 1cm slices.
100gm unsliced smoked streaky bacon, in 1cm cubes.
1 red onion.
1 clove garlic.
1 yellow pepper (capsicum).
1 small green chili pepper, chopped fine.
1 can chopped tomatoes.
1 cup basmati rice.
150ml chicken stock.
2 bay leaves.
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.
tabasco sauce.

Fry the bacon for 5 or 10 minutes to release some fat, then fry the onion and garlic in that until soft. Add the yellow pepper and the chili, continue frying for a few minutes.

Add the rice and stir it all around to coat it with the fat, then add the chicken stock.

Then add the smoked sausage, tinned tomatoes, bay leaves, cayenne and tabasco. Salt and freshly ground black pepper as you like.

If necessary, add more stock or water so there's enough for the rice to cook properly. I realise that's not a good instruction for a recipe, but it's the best I can do. It needs to be pretty liquid at this stage, as the rice will absorb a fair amount. If in doubt, keep your eye on it.

Cover and leave it on a low light for 15 minutes or so until the rice is cooked. Longer is fine, but make sure it doesn't stick to the pan. I imagine you could do this in a casserole in the oven, instead.

Taste before serving. I found this wasn't really punchy enough, so gave it several good shakes of tabasco, and even so it didn't have as much bite as I'd have liked. Next time, more chili, more cayenne, more tabasco, maybe some paprika.


DJ Kirkby said...

I can't believe you posted a reicipe with Mattesons's (barf) sausage and it sounds good! I would love to see a pic of those Blackbirds.

Rob Clack said...

We've been eating Matteson's smoked pork sausages for years, and loved them. We know they're seriously processed food, but we just love them. So we eat them occasionally. Boiled in the bag with mash and frozen peas, or, in summer, sliced up with tinned chick peas, sliced tomatoes, and 50:50 yoghurt and mayo, plus a sprinkling of paprika,

OK, so we have some proper German worst thawing out, but who knows how that will turn out.

We shall see.

Rob Clack said...

Thinking about it DJK , you could just use your meat product of choice. For example, I bet it would be good with a nice spicy chorizo.

GeraniumCat said...

Oh, I want a Red Sentinel, it's so pretty...I think it's the variety that is used in the walled garden at Alnwick, where it is pleached, and looks stunning.
Matteson's sausage quite popular in this household too - I do a similar warm salad, chunks of sausage with boiled new potatoes and raw diced onion, dressed with mayo and yoghurt and loads of chives on top. It's very good.

Rob Clack said...

Red Sentinel gives a splash of colour when the rest of the garden is pretty drab, so it's a useful plant.

And your sausage recipe sounds good, too. I shall keep a note of it!

Pondside said...

As Hank Williams would have sung "Son of a gun we'll have good fun on the bayou! Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and a filet gumbo....."
Beautiful tree!