This Jambalaya Festival is held every Memorial Day weekend in the heart of Gonzales. Thursday kicks off the festivities, which culminates on Sunday. Cooks compete for the champion spot and a new queen is crowned. Food, festival rides, and craft kiosks dot the landscape.
Jambalaya Festival Mini-pot competition
Jambalaya is a Cajun/Creole food made from a mixture of meats, rice and seasonings blended to produce a delicious dish. It can be made with ham, chicken, sausage, pork, shrimp and oysters (separately or all together), to which is added oil, rice, onion, garlic, pepper and other seasonings. In recent years, “Pastalaya” has become popular. The recipe is the same, but pasta is used instead of rice.
Jambalaya from Gonzales is a brown-style (Cajun) rather than the red tomato-based (Creole) jambalayas found in New Orleans.
One 3 to 4 pound hen cut into serving pieces
3 cups long grain rice – uncooked
1/4 cup cooking oil
3 medium white onions – chopped fine
6 cups water (or chicken stock)
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
2-1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 cup green onions – chopped
1/2 cup green peppers
1/2 cup celery – chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Red pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce
Fry chicken in cooking oil until golden brown.
Remove chicken and oil leaving just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Add onions, and fry until golden brown. Put chicken back into the pot with onions, and add 6 cups of water (note water level). Add remaining seasonings and simmer covered until chicken is tender. If necessary, add enough water to bring back to the previous level. Bring back to a rolling boil, and add rice. Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes – turn rice. Cover with tight-fitting lid, let steam for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender. Turn rice once more, and turn the fire off. Let stand for 10 minutes and then serve. When adding salt, water should taste a little too salty, as the rice absorbs considerable salt. Yield: 6 to 8 generous servings.
Area cooks compete during the Festival for the title of “World Champion”. Many champions have cooked at other festivals, for foreign leaders as well as presidents of the United States. Gonzales is the “Jambalaya Capital of the World.” There are also mini-pot (right) and youth competitions.