I was enjoying lunch, and then Suzen spoke.

“Such a goyisher meal.”

“What?” I asked.

“You are going straight to hell.”

“I’m eating a hot dog, for Christ’s sake.” I said. I lifted up the hot dog. I hoped it was Hebrew National. I didn’t have a clue.

“Not the dog, this,” she said, lifting up my milkshake. “Milk and meat.”

We are an ethical family but not very religiously observant. Some days Suzen will raise matters of Jewish culinary laws. I can only feel sorry for her to have missed all those weekends growing up with burgers, dogs, and fries matched with great shakes. If there had been soft ice cream machines in Jerusalem in 500BC, I think the culinary laws would have been adjusted.

Of course, when dinner comes around, well, there is wide discretion about what we make and eat. Witness this fine creation with ham, shrimp and god-knows what kind of sausage.

James Villas has been a food journalist and cookbook author supreme for 30 years. His previous book, Bacon, was a tribute to a meat that deserves more than the BLT. Now, in Pig: King of the Southern Table, the whole hog is on the table. And it is a Southern table. Cream, cheese, bourbon and other fine ingredients show up here on a regular basis. I’m personally fond of the Memphis County Ham and Corn Chowder with Bourbon. The half dozen cornbread recipes all contest for “best.” Villas is a North Carolina native who has the experience and integrity to capture the dazzling flavors of pork in every one of his dozen chapters. From appetizers to breads, his authentically researched and superbly tested recipes are for your enlightenment and culinary satisfaction.

We’ve dog eared many recipes but Suzen first made this jambalaya and I don’t think anyone could resist the sensory appeal of this dish. Authentic to traditions of jambalaya preparation, this dish will have you stirring constantly for the first 20 minutes or so. The resulting flavor is worth all that wrist work.

We’ve enjoyed Pig immensely and will be posting more of its terrific recipes.

Creole Ham, Sausage, and Shrimp Jambalaya

Yield: serves 4


2 ounces salt pork, cut into pieces
4 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound cooked ham, chopped
½ pound spicy smoked sausage links, cut into ½-inch rounds
2 teaspoons salt
½teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
2 ½ cups uncooked long-grain rice
5 cups water
1 pound fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
Tabasco sauce


In a heavy 8-quart pot or casserole, cook the salt pork over low heat until all the fat is rendered. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, and stir until the vegetables soften, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the ham, sausage, salt, pepper, thyme, cayenne, and bay leaves and continue stirring for about 10 minutes longer.  Add the rice and water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Add the shrimp, stir well, increase the heat to moderate, and stir with a fork until the rice begins to dry out and is fluffy, about 15 minutes.

Serve the jambalaya hot with Tabasco on the side.

Source: Pig by James Villas