Jambalaya – bring on the Mardi Gras!

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(Jambalaya of chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage and rice – recipe in post)

Jambalaya! It just sounds fun doesn’t it? Makes me think of jazzy bras instruments and cajun dancing… although I’ve never been to New Orleans.
The Boyfriend’s family has, however, and are big fans of the cuisine – and that was the first thing I remembered when it came to making a meal for them. Good, robust, southern cooking… that I could do! I couldn’t ask for anything easier. Meat and rice, a couple of veggies, a handful of creole seasonings, and you’re well on your way to a big helping of happiness.

And how fitting, with Mardi Gras right around the corner? Even though I don’t participate in lent, or the traditional Ash Wednesday fasting, I certainly don’t have any gripes about a big hearty meal on Fat Tuesday.

I chose some of the classic Jambalaya fixings of chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage, but whatever combination of meats (or even non-meats) you prefer will do. The level of heat is adjustable as well, so whatever your taste this dish is sure to please.
Yes, I hear the Jambalaya purists cringe when I suggest this could be made meat-free, but what can I say – add some of the same seasonings as would be in a good sausage, but replace the protein with veggies or tempeh, and you’re set for one tasty vegan meal!

Jambalaya
(Recipe very loosely based off The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook)
Makes ~6 servings

1 lb. skinless chicken thighs – bone in
1 lb. shrimp, with tails
1 lb. andouille sausage
3.5 cups chicken broth
5-6 bay leaves
1 tsp. canola or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
18th-1/4 tsp. cayenne or red pepper flakes (or less to suite your tastes)
1 tsp. celery seeds
1/2 tsp. dried basil, oregano, and thyme
1/4 tsp. tumeric
32oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (reserve the juice from the can)
2 cups long grain rice (white or brown)
Salt to taste

Method:

In a pot over medium heat, combine chicken broth, shrimp tails, and bay leaves. Let simmer 20-30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, or Dutch oven, add 1 tsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until well browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper, and add to the pot with all the fat from the sausage. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side, or until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

(Optionally spoon away some of the fat in the pan if it looks like to much, or to make it slightly less rich.)

Add the onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Stir and saute for 1-2 minutes, then add all of the spices. Let the spices cook for a minute or so to release some of their flavor into the oil, then add the tomatoes, mashing them up with your spoon as you go.

Slice or chop the sausage, and return it and all of the chicken to the pan.

Strain the chicken/shrimp broth into a large measuring cup, and add enough of the reserved tomato juice to make 3 cups of liquid (for white rice) or 3.5 cups (for brown rice) – use a little more chicken broth if you don’t have enough tomato juice.

Pour the liquid into the pot, then add the rice. Stir to make sure it’s evenly distrubuted, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for about 35 minutes. Uncover, stir in the shrimp, and continue to cook as needed until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

At this point the chicken will be fall-off-the-bone tender, and you can either serve it as is, one thigh per serving, or pick the bones out and shred the meat into the rest of the dish.

Season to taste, and enjoy!

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Easily customizable, freezable, reheatable, and crowd-pleasable. If you’re looking for a whole lot of flavor with not a whole lot of effort, this is where it’s at.

Be prepared to fall in love, because this is one recipe I plan to revist again and again. Definitely one for the books… The cookbooks, I mean.

Happy feasting!

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25 Responses to Jambalaya – bring on the Mardi Gras!

  1. Soni February 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    Oooh its my all time favorite dish that I can’t get enough of whenever we eat out!Never tried making it at home, but this recipe looks fab.Might give it a try :)

    • Willow February 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      I hope you do! It was super easy to make, too. :)

  2. Jenn @ Peas and Crayons February 17, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    PERFECT for mardi gras! This looks ah-mazing! <3

  3. Anonymous February 18, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    Stupid question: where did the chicken bones go? At what point did you de-bone thighs??

    • Willow February 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      No, that’s a great question – one I meant to address in the post but forgot. At the end of cooking the chicken is pretty fall-off the bone tender, so you can pick the bones out at the end of cooking, or just give one thigh per serving with the bone in.
      Because they’re thighs and not breasts or wings or anything there aren’t any little bones to worry about.

  4. Jen @ Juanita's Cocina February 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    “Easily customizable, freezable, reheatable, and crowd-pleasable.” This is my favorite line from your blog…I just like the way it sounds! LOL.

    This looks so yummy! Pinned so I can save this to make ASAP!

    • Willow February 18, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

      Haha, thanks! I was feeling a bit of whimsy, I guess. Let me know what you think if you make it – I love feedback!

  5. Ladybug February 19, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    Looks and sounds delicious! It has the perfect dark caramel color of what I have had in New Orleans. Boy am I craving it now, especially at this time of year. Thanks for posting!

    • Willow February 19, 2012 at 4:27 am #

      Your welcome! :D

  6. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes February 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    I cannot wait to try the veganized version of this; see the thing is, I love rice almost just as much as homemade bread fresh from the oven. I have always been intimidated to make Jambalaya; it always seemed so complicated, you make it look easy – mmm I cannot wait to eat this!

    • Willow February 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

      It really wasn’t a whole lot of work – I had one of the most stressful days ever, came home, and threw this together in just a few hours.
      You’ll have to let me know how it is veganized! I think I’ll probably make it meat-free next time, myself. :)

    • Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes February 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

      I am making it tonight for Fat Tuesday- I will let you know how successful I am….working late tonight so by the sounds of it it shouldn’t take me too long to throw together!

    • Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes February 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      Made this last night and it was SO Good!! Made a few adjustments based on what I had on hand…I added black olives, I am not sure how cajun that is but it was yummy!

      I also used mushrooms and some vegan chicken jerky that Justin likes- overall it was a wonderful recipe that I will be making again :)

    • Willow February 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      Wonderful! I’m so glad you liked it. I never would have thought to add olives (no, probably not very cajun or creole) but they sound like a tasty addition!
      Thank you so much for letting me know how it went. I’m looing forward to trying this sans the meat next time. :D

  7. Anonymous February 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    can you use chicken breast instead? i ask because the thighs are higher in fat is all.

    • Willow February 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      You could, though I would do boneless so you wouldn’t have to worry about stray bones once the meat got tender.
      Also, if it’s fat you’re worred about I would say you’re better off cutting down on the sausage – that’s the fattiest part. Just use a link or two for the flavor.
      Hope that helps!

    • Anonymous February 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

      it does help! i hope to make this soon! i’ll let ya know how it turns out!

  8. TheDad February 23, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Jambone ala yaya: Ham (pork, really) with rice. I love etymology when I eat. I suppose the andouille is the pork, but I have no idea how it got augmented with sausage, chicken, and/or seafood; I’m betting it was a whatever-you-had-available thing. Glorified leftovers! A Naw-leans original, served best with jazz or zydeco on the side.
    Only got to New Orleans a couple of times, but the food really IS unique and wonderful. Nice, Will!

    • Willow February 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      Thanks! And yes, etymology is fun. I thought the history of the word Jambalaya was a little uncertain, though… I remember hearing that it came from a word meaning ‘mixed or mashed up’ and ‘rice or pilaf’ – as in, whatever you have on hand, with rice. Which might support the ham/sausage/shrimp/whatever you have on hand theory.
      Anyway, wherever it comes from, it’s tasty!

  9. Anonymous March 1, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    MMMM using tempeh in jambalaya is a genius idea!

    • Willow March 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      Thanks! I’m a big fan of tempeh. :)

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  11. Danna July 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I made it last night and I am eating left overs as I type. It came out perfect and your directions were very easy to follow.

    • Willow July 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      Wonderful, I’m glad you like it! Thanks for stopping back to tell me. :)

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