Q. This summer, I want to have a Caribbean-themed dinner party. What would be a good main dish? –– Stephanie, Appleton
A. As I read this question I can hear the calypso music coming from the steel drums, see the tiki torches glowing against the night sky and taste the Red Stripe beer served alongside sweet rum punch in coconut shells! The Caribbean is not unlike the United States, Canada, Australia and other eclectic “melting pot” cuisines in that many cultural influences are present. Given the waters of the Gulf Coast, my first thought would include its indigenous supply of seafood. Your entrée choices could include grilled jumbo shrimp marinated in citrus juices such as mango, juicy barbecued pork chops rubbed with Jamaican jerk seasonings, strips of sautéed chicken breast served with a fresh mango salsa, chunky vegetables simmered in a rich coconut curry, or any number of fresh fishes roasted with garlic and sea salt.
No party is complete without the “fixins” so don’t forget a few fried pork rinds (yes, they’re not just for rednecks), flavorful dips and a variety of fresh roasted nuts to start things off. For dessert, let’s consider a nice piña colada cheesecake, creamy rice pudding with aromatic cinnamon and don’t forget the traditional rum cake.
Chef Jeff’s Shrimp Jambalaya
1 lb. andouille sausage, cut in chunks
1 lb. med. size shrimp, cleaned
½ cup canola oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced green pepper
2 T. chopped fresh garlic
2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 T. thyme
2 T. parsley, chopped fine
1 lb. long-grain white rice, par cooked
cayenne pepper (or hot sauce)
Sauté the Andouille sausage and shrimp in the canola oil until almost done. Add the onions, celery, peppers (known as “the Trinity”) and garlic (now known as the “Holy Trinity”) and sauté until caramelized and translucent.
Add tomatoes, chicken stock, thyme and parsley. Bring to a simmer.
Add the par cooked rice and heat thoroughly. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed or evaporated. Adjust the flavor with the cayenne pepper or hot sauce. Serve immediately.