About a week ago, my friend Meredith posted a message on my Facebook wall and said she’d made my recipe for jambalaya that day as part of a trial run for a Mardi Gras party she was hosting later that week. And I realized I’d forgotten all about jambalaya.
But I had a good reason.
About eleven years ago, jambalaya was one of my cold weather staples. A little spicy Cajun comfort food to help us get through the cold South Texas winters where the temps have been known to dip into the low 30’s for minutes at a time. One night my sister, Amy, was in town for a visit (This was eleven years ago and she still lived in Dallas. This detail isn’t pertinent to the story but you’re getting it anyway.) and I decided I’d make jambalaya for dinner.
Which was all good and fine until it almost killed P.
We were all sitting around the table, enjoying our dinner and visiting, when it became clear that P was choking. Mainly because he was giving us the international sign for choking. Apparently, a round slice of sausage had gotten caught in his throat. It was approximately thirty seconds later that my sister and I made the unfortunate discovery that neither one of us possessed an adequate working knowledge of the Heimlich maneuver.
Actually, I realized I lacked sufficient Heimlich maneuver skills while my sister, who probably knew how to do the Heimlich since she was a teacher and had been trained in CPR, fled the scene because she was afraid P was about to throw up and she didn’t want to see it.
No one ever accused either of us of keeping a calm head in a crisis situation.
After P realized he wasn’t going to be able to save himself on the back of a kitchen chair, I dialed 911. And an ambulance came. And paramedics rushed in the house. And we all had to go to the hospital so they could administer some type of medicine to relax his throat muscles.
I also remember asking if I could have a sedative for myself.
If I recall, P gave me a dirty look. But he had no idea the stress I was under. It’s not every day that you prepare a meal that almost kills your husband and then simultaneously discover you lack the skills to save him. Talk about WIFE FAIL.
Obviously, P recovered from the experience. We discovered shortly thereafter that he had some acid reflux issues that had caused scarring on his esophagus which led him to choke easily. So we got that little problem taken care of because calling 911 during family dinner is kind of a downer. Not to mention, expensive.
So, even though the Jambalaya wasn’t necessarily to blame, I crossed it off my list of meals since I figured it probably fell into a NEVER AGAIN category for P. I didn’t want him to have flashbacks to his near demise.
(The food that is on my NEVER AGAIN list is Kung Pao Chicken. But for different reasons involving a seventeen hour bus ride and an upset stomach.)
But, last night after eleven long years, I pulled Jambalaya out of the archives. Although I made sure to cut the sausage into very small pieces.
We ate it and it was delicious and we didn’t have to call 911.
And given that I’ve just told you a dramatic life and death tale with too many details about my husband’s esophagus problems, don’t you want to know how to make it yourself?
1/4 cup butter
1 pound smoked sausage (hot or mild, chopped into very small pieces unless you have learned NOTHING from my story)
1/4 cup flour
2 medium onions, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I used two 14.5 oz cans of petite diced tomatoes because that’s how I roll)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tbs. dried thyme
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne
black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken (I bought cooked chicken because, raw chicken, I HAVE ISSUES)
3 cups chicken broth
2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
salt to taste
In a large stockpot, melt butter and saute’ sausage until lightly browned. Add in flour. Then add onions, green onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute’ until vegetables are soft.
Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, cayenne, black pepper, chicken, chicken broth, shrimp and rice. The liquid in the pot should just cover everything.
Let it boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Add salt and Tabasco sauce to taste.
Serve with warm French bread and sufficient knowledge of the Heimlich maneuver.