jambalayaI’ve made jambalaya before, but I had a different goal in mind with this creation — finding a white wine that would work.

Every year, I’m in charge of putting together the annual owner meeting for the store. Each year, the event has become more and more successful, to the point that I’m now coordinating an event for 500 co-op owners. Past themes have included Halloween, Oktoberfest, wine harvest, and Italian cuisine. This year, the focus is on Cajun food.

It promises to be chilly the evening of the meeting and dinner, so the spicy jambalaya that will be served should be well received. However, attendees have come to expect a good wine or beer pairing with the meal, and since some people are red wine drinkers exclusively, while others are exclusive to white wine, the multi-layered flavors of this year’s main dish posed a bit of a challenge.

The red wine choice was pretty straight forward — a fruit-forward Zinfandel seemed like the best option. Since my partner is also the wine buyer, I bowed to his preference for the label. Charles opted for Sobon — always nice. But the white, the white … with sausage and shrimp and chicken and spicy … my first instinct was for an off-dry Riesling, but we wanted to test it out. I’ve read that Sauvignon Blanc can work as well, so I put together a quick jambalaya and got to tasting.

While the Sauv Blanc stood up to the dish, it was just present. It didn’t sing. Then we tried an off-dry Riesling and found the tune. The sweetness harmonized with the spiciness quite well, and it paired nicely with each meat in the dish. So my first instinct ended up being the right one. We’re going with Pacific Rim. All of their wines are lovely and all pair so well with food.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with you our beer choice for this year as well. We’re offering Anderson Valley Brewing Company Winter Solstice and Boont Amber. Mmmm… such good beer!

Quick Jambalaya (not really traditional, btw)

12 prawns, peeled, deveined, and chopped
1 chicken breast, diced
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (I actually used a rub)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I actually used sriracha since I already had it in the fridge.)
3/4 cup rice
3 cups chicken stock
2 Andouille sausages, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Toss prawns and chicken in a bowl with the seasoning, set aside.
In a saucepan over medium high heat, add olive oil, onion, and bell pepper. Cook for three minutes, then add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves and sauces. Add rice and slowly stir in chicken stock. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add meats and cook until meat is done, about ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and serve.

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