I am a huge fan of jambalaya. I think I remember hearing it was invented by French Canadians who decided to move to Louisiana at some point, which seems to be a weird choice on their part. However, they apparently had their heads on straight when it came to food, because they proceeded to invent all kinds of delicious food that define the region to this day. Jambalaya is near the top of that list in my book.
The reason I love it is that it’s random and fun. It kind of sounds like its name; it’s a big “jumble” of rice, vegetables, spices, and random meats. It’s like a weird redneck cousin of paella, and it’s extremely delicious. Rachel and I enjoy jambalaya from a “living more simply” point of view as well, because it’s 1) cheap, 2) delicious, and 3) easy to make a ton of it. We usually make a big pot and eat it throughout most of the week. This recipe will feed a lot of people regardless, so dive in and give it a try.
Many versions of jambalaya include some variation of shrimp, sausage, and chicken. This is a pretty basic version (and by no means authentic) using only sausage, but that’s just because we didn’t have any shrimp lying around (I love shrimp). It works great with any sausage, but it’ll be extra tasty with sliced smoked sausage or andouille, if you can find it. I made an attempt at mixing my own andouille-style sausage, so that’s what you’ll see in the pictures, but there should be plenty of great options at the store.
(This recipe is loosely based on one of Emeril’s jambalaya recipes at the Food Network website, which is probably about 40% jambalaya recipes by Emeril in the first place. I adjusted for my own preferences though, so try it out!)
1/2 pound andouille sausage or smoked sausage (or whatever sausage you have in a pinch)
1.5 cups long-grain rice
3 cups stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced tomato
2-3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (definitely optional)
cayenne powder/chipotle powder/chipotle paste, to taste (1/2-1 tsp)
salt and pepper to taste
Start by browning the sausage. If it’s fresh (uncooked) like mine, you can crumble it in, or cook it separately and slice it in. Smoked sausage is often pre-cooked so you don’t technically need to do anything to it, but I like to give a nice browning anyway.
Add in your onions, peppers, and celery and sautee aggressively for 10 minutes or so.
Next add the tomatoes, garlic, and bay leaves and continue to cook.
Add the rice and mix in thoroughly, and cook it with the vegetables for a few minutes (dry).
Once the rice has a little color, add the stock all at once and bring to an easy simmer. It’ll take 15-20 minutes for the rice to absorb the liquid, so during that time you can start throwing your seasonings in (spices, worcestershire sauce, cayenne) and adjusting the flavors.
When the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft, you’re done! If you’re luckier than me and have some shrimp available, I’d recommend adding them toward the end. You could even give them a quick sear at the beginning and then remove them until you get the last steps, so they don’t get so overcooked during the rest of the process.
Anyway, there you have it! This is a fun way to make a big cheap meal that’ll last a few rounds of leftovers. Great with some kind of crusty bread, and easy to improvise other ideas if you’re feeling creative. Let me know how it goes!
Talk to you next time, foodies!