You guys. Can I just TELL you how excited I am that we have successfully made it through Thanksgiving and have now landed ourselves into full-fledged holiday land?? Excited might be an understatement. I am working on all things Christmas related around the house, and am trying to get my porch decor ideas under control. I’m also starting to think about all the holiday party recipes I want to create and which dishes will go where. Along with holiday parties, I’m also beginning to think about what we’ll make for Papa Noel’s big debut and what he might like to eat. I’m hoping the Holiday Pastalaya Recipe I’m going to share with you might win him over!
You don’t know who Papa Noel is?
Well, let’s start there. The term “Papa Noel” refers to the Cajun version of Santa Claus and his homecoming is quite a big deal in the state of Louisiana…complete with 10+ miles of bonfires to help him find your house!
(Before and After)
Dating back to the 1700’s when the River Parishes of Louisiana were settled, the early colonists brought with them their native land traditions of summer and winter bonfires. Through letters from the 1860’s (that are still in existence), it is documented that the summer feast of St. John the Baptist was then celebrated in neighboring St. John Parish with the lighting of fires to welcome home relatives that lived far away. Later, in the mid 1950’s, a residential subdivision along River Road between the towns of Lutcher and Gramercy adopted the bonfire tradition and it not only continued but extended itself to a Christmas Eve tradition that is unique and special to the River Parishes. The levee bonfires, affectionately referred to as “lighting the way for Papa Noel” it said to be what helps guide the big guy to your homes with gifts.
And while he still demands cookies, it is also tradition that you serve gumbo, jambalaya, or an oyster dressing on Christmas Eve as you await his arrival.
Including Tabasco hot sauce into any of those recipes I just mentioned.
The Tabasco plant and General Store are both located on Avery Island in Louisiana and while you can purchase a bottle of Tabasco at just about any retailer in the state, I love taking a little road trip to the facility.
Any item and flavor combination you can imagine can be found behind those doors at the Tabasco General Store.
Need some recipe wall art?
Or, a palm sized Cajun Cookbook?
A little Tabasquito to make you happy?
Probably the best part of visiting the Tabasco General Store is the ability to sample all the different flavors of sauces and jellies.
So many flavors!
I grabbed some Green Jalapeño Pepper, Chipotle, some Garlic BBQ Marinade and replenished my supply of the Original Red Sauce and set out to give my Holiday Pastalaya Recipe a test run before things get super hectic.
Pastalaya is really just jambalaya with pasta rather than rice. The meat combinations are endless and it really just comes down to what you’re in the mood for that day. If you have shrimp, you can use it. Chicken will work as well. Add them both.
Or neither at all, and prepare it with cubed pork and sausage the way I did.
It’s one of my favorite dishes to make because it’s easy, only requires one pot, serves a ton, and provides you that down home comfort food feeling when you’re needing something warm and comforting.
I call it “holiday” because the combination of Rotel tomatoes and sausage, as well as the chopped green onions, lend itself to holiday colors. Or perhaps that’s just me seeing the Christmas spirit in everything!
See? Told you I was excited.
The recipe makes about 6-8 servings and it’s one of those that gets better the next day after the flavors fully develop.
Holiday Pastalaya Recipe
- 1 pound pork (cubed)
- 1 pound andouille/smoked sausage (cut into 1/2 inch rounds)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
- 2 stalks celery (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons Tony's seasoning (or other cajun seasoning)
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes (drained)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 pound linguine pasta (1 box, cooked according to package directions)
- 2 green onions (chopped)
- salt & pepper to taste
- In a large pot, brown pork and sausage in butter over medium- high heat. Remove from pot and set aside. In the reserve drippings, add the onions, celery and bell pepper and sauté until softened. Stir in garlic, Rotel tomatoes, chicken broth, whipping cream, cajun seasoning & Tabasco.
- Add the meat back to the pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes or until pork is completely cooked through.
- Add the cooked pasta and green onions; combine thoroughly.
So now that I have fully briefed you in Cajun Christmas tradition, taken you on a tour of the Tabasco General Store, and shared with you one of my favorite meals, what traditions or meals are common in your neck of the woods?