Jambalaya

LA asked for my jambalaya recipe; as long as I was writing it out, I figured other people might want it too. Like lots of traditional forms of cooking, I think jambalaya evolved as a way to use up every bit of your leftovers, and to make a bit of meat go a long way, so it’s a very flexible recipe. Here is is, with what I used last night and the things I’d have added if I’d had them on hand.

Jambalaya

1 – 2 breasts of chicken, raw and diced
1/2 – 1 lb of raw peeled shrimp (I like shrimp, so I prefer to go toward the generous end of that – if they’re large, cut them in pieces)
sausage, sliced (In the US we used to make jambalaya from a box, and we’d use smoked turkey sausage – 1/2-1 pack of that is about right, again depending on your preferences. Here I use rookworst – smoked sausage – and I assume it’s pork. Kielbasa works OK, too. Don’t forget to peel it if yours came with a skin.)
1 bell pepper, diced
1-2 onions, diced
1-2 sticks celery, sliced (this time I had no peppers and only one onion, so I used 3 big stalks of celery)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 chile peppers, diced (optional – I remove the seeds so it’s not painfully hot)
2 cups chicken broth (I’ve used bouillon cubes + water, these last couple times – works fine but if you have real broth use that)
1-2 cups rice (I used 2 c on this last batch)
2 medium tomatoes or a bunch of cherry tomatoes, diced
about a half can of tomato sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Cajun seasoning
Tabasco (optional, and I didn’t use it this time because I had chile peppers and cayenne)
salt (optional, and not needed if you use commercial bouillon and Cajun seasoning)
black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, herbes de Provence, thyme, whatever herbs you like
olive oil (if you have it; if not use vegetable oil)

All that chopping is the longest part of this recipe! Saute the chicken in oil until cooked through; saute the onions, green pepper, celery and garlic in oil until soft. If you don’t feel like dirtying two pans, you can do one batch after the other; it won’t matter. Add water to the broth until you have a bit more than twice the volume of your rice. Dump the chicken, the veggies and everything else into a big soup pot or Dutch oven – you don’t have to precook the shrimp and of course the sausage pretty much comes already cooked. Use the amounts of herbs and spice that seem right to you, but be reasonably generous – and figure the Cajun seasoning and cayenne depending on how much spice your household likes. Stir it all together and cover. Cook on medium-low heat until the rice has absorbed all the liquid, stirring occasionally. Add more water if it seems to need it. Stir and serve with crusty bread or garlic bread.

The vegetarian sausage we had this time (I think the brand is VEGA) really wasn’t bad aside from being softer than I’d prefer. If I wanted to make a vegetarian version I’d use that and up the quantities of vegetables. I don’t know what other veggies would work well in this: scallions for sure (I use those if I have them) and probably shallots; not sure if diced leeks or eggplant would work but they might.

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