There seem to be as many versions of Jambalaya as there are people making the dish. Creole, Cajun, with “the trinity” or without, my family loves it. I first cooked this recipe when I was catering and found myself baked pasta and roasted chicken-weary during high school graduation party season. With a few planning and execution modifications I was able to churn out hotel-pans of spicy jambalaya studded with tender shrimp and chicken….a very nice change. The recipe I offer you is a scaled down and…gasp… pork-fat-free version of my original recipe. If you’re a hard-core jambalaya junky, feel free to add ham or andouille sausage-no questions asked :)
I made this the other night when the kids were here. It all started well enough. The guys were at the gym and Lib was doing homework. There was no one around to mess with my mojo. You see, we have a great house that was built in 1901; but we pay a little for the “cool” factor with the fact that nary a modern kitchen designer was to be found when the house was built. Immediately upon entering the back door, you’re smack-dab in the middle of the kitchen. It’s a smallish, narrow room with an enormous cooking island / dining bar floating in the middle. If I’m cooking when the kids are home, the kitchen is often teen-central. Lib and Alex’s long, gangly teenager bodies ooze over the bar-stools like Salvador Dali clocks. If you have kids, you know what I mean. ( I don’t think I’ve seen either of them sit up straight, with both feet on the floor since turning fourteen.) Those nights are great opportunities for kid/mom bonding – AND – I can’t tell you how much inside information I’m able to collect without ever having to ask a single prying question! But, dorky jokes about the newest Jackass Movie, general teasing about whatever, and the occasional ticklish finger jab to the ribs which inevitably sends at least one cooking utensil flying, can be somewhat of a distraction to the cook. Jambalaya night quickly turned into one of those nights as the guys got home, Lib wandered down in search of what smelled so good, and Alex’s girlfriend joined us. So please bear with me. I have great pics for you of everything including Alex, but not one glamour shot of the final dish.
Trust me, it was delicious. Even Alex’s girlfriend (who appeared somewhat mystified by our motley crew of a family) went in for seconds.
Notes – You’ll be making a rue, which is simply a matter of cooking oil or butter and flour. The purpose of the rue is to help thicken a dish as it cooks. Creole / Cajun rues are generally cooked until at least the color of peanut butter. The darker the rue, the more nutty flavor it imparts. This is a very simple process; but don’t turn your back for a second. It doesn’t take long for the contents of your pan to turn from light caramel to black.
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped green pepper (we usually use red, though)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 (or more to taste) cayenne pepper
- 1-14 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 cup long grain riced
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and devined
- 1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 tablespoon salt-free Cajun seasoning, separated
- Combine flour and oil in a deep, nonstick skillet.
- Cook over medium-high heat until the color of peanut butter. Stir constantly.
- Add onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic to flour mixture, saute until tender.
- Add stock and next 6 ingredients.
- Stir well, bring to a boil.
- Stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- While simmering, toss chicken in 3/4 tablespoon Cajun seasoning.
- When rice has simmered for 15 minutes, stir in chicken, cover, and let cook for five more minutes.
- While chicken and rice are simmering, toss shrimp in remaining 3/4 tablespoon Cajun seasoning.
- When chicken and rice have simmered for five minutes, stir in shrimp.
- If rice is finished, keep covered and remove from heat. Allow jambalaya to sit for five minutes before serving. Residual heat will cook the shrimp.
- If rice needs five more minutes, allow it to finish cooking. Beware of over cooking shrimp.
This post is linked to Fudge Ripple’s Tuesday Night Supper Club, Hearth and Soul at Girl Chef, Tuesdays at the Table and Tasty Tuesday at A Beautiful Mess and Wholesome Whole Foods at Health Food Lover.