Jambalaya, the dish so good they wrote a song about it, is a natural choice for Mardi Gras. In fact, the New Orleans rice dish is the quintessential party food. Jambalaya smells divine, tastes even better and is surprisingly easy to make, even for a crowd. Especially for a crowd– jambalaya for two is doable but rather pointless. The good news is that jambalaya tastes even better the second day and that leftovers freeze well. The bad news? There won’t be any leftovers.
Jambalaya is the ultimate in one pot meals. That jambalaya, a spicy dish of rice, vegetables and meats– usually sausage, seafood, ham and chicken or duck– resembles paella is not a coincidence. The Spanish once owned New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta and jambalaya is a perfect example of a creole, or mixture of French and Spanish influences. Jambalaya leaves out the cripplingly expensive saffron used in true Spanish paella. The flavor is upped with the addition of other seasonings, notably thyme and cayenne pepper.
Creole Jambalaya is most popular in New Orleans area. Also called red jambalaya, Creole Jambalaya adds tomatoes to the party. Cajun Jambalaya is more commonly found in the bayous surrounding the city. Cajun jambalaya, or brown jambalaya, leaves out the tomatoes. Both styles of jambalaya often make use of whatever meat is available, although you are more likely to discover wild boar and chunks of alligator meat in your bowl if the jambalaya is brown.
Jambalaya is also a crafty and delicious way to use up bits of leftover meat. This recipe calls for precooked chicken, but you can also substitute duck with succulent results. If you do, save the rendered duck fat for cooking the vegetables and rice.
Why CASH? Because this easy jambalaya recipe calls for Chicken, Andouille, Shrimp and Ham, and because SACH sounds silly. To find out where to buy Andouille and other ingredients in Dallas, see the Buy it Local! section below.
Cash Creole Jambalaya Recipe for Mardi Gras
2 lbs (about) cooked chicken meat, cubed (see note below)
1 lb Andouille sausage, sliced into coins
1/4 pound ham, cubed
1 lb raw shrimp, shelled and cleaned
3 fat cloves of garlic, minced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 large onions, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 Tbs dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil OR dried oregano
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs freshly ground black pepper
2 cups long grained rice
1 32 oz can whole tomatoes in juice
1 quart (4 cups) (about) chicken stock– use low sodium if canned
3 bay leaves
1 Tbs Worchestershire sauce (I like Lea & Perrins)
2 tsps Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Seasoning or Old Bay, or to taste
Louisiana style hot sauce, to taste
In a large Dutch oven or other heavy lidded pot over medium heat, saute the Andouille sausage in a little bit of bacon drippings or olive oil, adding in the ham once you get some grease going. Saute the garlic and vegetables until soft, adding a bit more oil or drippings if necessary.
Add the dried herbs and spices, stir to combine and add the raw rice. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Push the rice and veggies to one side and add the tomatoes and their juice to the pot. Crush the tomatoes with the back of your spoon or a potato masher.
Add the cooked chicken, bay leaves, chicken stock, Creole seasoning and Worchestershire sauce. Stir to combine, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, about half an hour. Add the shrimp, stir to combine and cook another 20 to 30 minutes, until the shrimp is just cooked through and the rice is done.
Taste for salt and adjust seasonings to taste.
Note on cooked chicken: If you do not have any leftover chicken lurking around in your fridge, fry up some boneless chicken thighs sprinkled with creole seasoning, buy a precooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket or save some money by making ridiculously simple and moist crockpot rotisserie style chicken. If you do the latter, you can use the defatted juices in the jambalaya.
Buy it local! Where to buy Andouille sausage in Dallas.
These days, Andouille sausage is easy to come by at your local supermarket, grocery store and many neighborhood butchers in the Dallas Metroplex. You may substitute hot links or kielbasa Better yet– check out Shed 2 daily at the Dallas Farmer’s Market for locally produced sausage, poultry and other meats. On Saturdays, check out Shed 1 for verified local vendors. The Dallas Farmers Market is open daily and it is also a great place to buy the vegetables and other ingredients called for by this recipe for CASH Creole Jambalaya.