1/2 lb. bacon, crumbled plus drippings
2 medium yellow onions, coarsely diced
5 ribs celery, coarsely diced
1 large bell pepper, rough chopped
1 cup mushroom buttons, quartered
8 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, if needed
5 cups julienned pork chops, boneless or bone-in
2 cans Rotel tomatoes (8-oz. size) plus can juices
3 cups Swanson's Chicken Broth
2 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet
3 cups long-grain rice (plus a skosh)
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sweet basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
12 green onion tops, thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley, minced

InstructionsFirst, in a large 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven, render down the bacon until it turns toasty and crispy. Then , after adding them to the Dutch oven one ingredient at a time, saute the onions, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic in the residual bacon drippings until all the veggies are fully wilted. You can expect this to take about 8 to 10 minutes are so. Then sprinkle on the flour and mix it into the seasoning vegetables well.

Next, by handfuls so that they don't dry up and toughen, drop in the pork chops and stir the pieces around until each one is thoroughly seared-you can add a little vegetable oil if necessary.

When the pork is beautifully browned, stir in the Rotel tomatoes (plus the liquid they came packed in), the chicken broth, and the Kitchen Bouquet. Then stir in the rice, plus the salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, sweet basil, thyme, onion tops, and parsley.

At this point, combine everything thoroughly to ensure a uniform blend of textures and tastes. Then lower the fire to 'simmer' and put the lid tightly on the Dutch oven. From this stage forward, allow the rice to cook gently until it completely cooks the pork, absorbs all of the liquid in the pot, and fluffs each grain of rice to spicy tenderness. Total cooking time from the moment the lid goes on the pot to 'ready to eat' is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 minutes to an hour, but I suggest you start checking it for doneness at around 40 minutes.

Chef's Hints

Be certain you correctly calculate the proper amount of liquids that go into this jambalaya. Too much and the jambalaya will turn out mushy; too little and the rice will turn out hard and undercooked. Consult the rice ratio chart for the correct amount of liquids to rice.

Essentially, it mandates that for whatever quantity of water you use, use 75% equivalency in rice. For example, 3 cups of water requires 2-1/4 cups of rice; 4 cups of water takes 3 cups of rice. Stick with these percentages and your jambalayas will always turn out light and fluffy, not heavy and pasty. The entire foolproof Rice/Water Jambalaya Ratio Chart can be found on page 175 of my Frank Davis Cooks Cajun, Creole, and Crescent City Cookbook.

In spite of what you may have heard growing up, it is definitely okay for you to lift the lid and stir the rice occasionally. Contrary to wives' tales, this does not allow all the steam to escape; but it does keep the grains of rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. I recommend you stir about three or four times, starting after about 15 minutes of cooking time.

You can use boneless pork loin or country pork ribs to make this jambalaya; but the most concentrated flavor is produced when you use cut up pieces of bone-in pork chops. For some reason or another, the presence of the pork bone intensifies the taste.

Remember, when you calculate total volume of liquids present, you also have to include the moisture that will be extracted from the onions, the celery, the mushrooms, the bell peppers, the pork, and the tomatoes. All this liquid must be added to the three cups of chicken broth to give you a total moisture ratio to rice ratio. Of course, since this won't always be easy to calculate precisely, you'll often have to guesstimate as closely as possible.