I would like to share with my version of a creole or red jambalaya. I must admit that I have never been to Louisiana (although on plan to go one of these days), so my version is how a Yankee would make a jambalaya.
I came to thinking about jambalaya, when I recently sampled one that was underwhelming. The rice was gummy. The chicken wasn’t seasoned with salt and pepper. And there was absolutely no flavor to hold the dish together. I didn’t get any heat from a chili powder, such as cayenne, or a smoky hint from paprika or cumin. This is a big no-no, in general, but a real sin when it comes to cooking in the Cajun or Creole style.
So this got me thinking about how I could come up with a jambalaya recipe of my own. Now the basis of most Creole and Cajun cooking is the holy trinity. That is a ratio of 50% onion to 25% celery and 25% pepper (traditionally green pepper, however I used red in my recipe because that was what I had in my house). Jambalaya also has Andouille and chicken. I opted for chicken breasts that I cut into chunks. It also has seafood; however, I did not include it in mine. You can definitely add it to yours, but do so toward the end of the cooking. I added tomatoes to my jambalaya which makes it a “red” jambalaya. I also added spices to the pot. Spices are a good thing. They add flavor and should not be left out of any recipe, especially this one. I know there are also commercial “Cajun Seasonings” on the grocery store shelves. Do yourself a favor and make your own. This way you control exactly what you are putting into your meals (Many commercial seasoning products contain MSG to extend the shelf life). For example, if you like heat but don’t really like cumin, you can only add extra cayenne.
The bottom line on jambalaya is that it is very similar to Spanish paella. So if you are familiar with paella, you will have no troubles making jambalaya. I hope you try this recipe and bring a piece of Louisiana to your kitchen via mine!
Creole (Red) Jambalaya, My Way
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 white onions, diced
1 large celery stalk, diced
1 pepper, diced (preferably green, but red will do)
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. Andouille sausage, sliced about a ½” inch thick
3 lbs. chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
1 tsp. lemon pepper
½ tsp. cayenne pepper (if you like heat, you can add a full teaspoon)
1 lbs. tomatoes, diced
1 ½ cups rice (I used Matiz Valenciano Paella Rice)
1 ½ – 2 cups chicken stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
1.) Heat the olive oil in a large saucepot over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery and pepper to the pot. Sweat the vegetables for about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
2.) Before adding the chicken, season both sides with salt and pepper. Then add the chicken and Andouille to the pot. Let the chicken and sausage cook for about 3 minutes or until the chicken starts to turn white.
3.) Add the cumin, smoked paprika, lemon pepper and cayenne. Mix the contents of the pot thoroughly.
4.) Add the tomatoes and let the jambalaya cook for about 10 minutes. Adjust your seasonings.
5.) Add the rice and the stock to the pot. Cook the rice for about 25 minutes or until done to your taste. The rice will soak up the liquid. Keep your eye on the pot to make sure the contents do not get too dry. If it does, add more stock a ½ cup at a time.
6.) Once the rice is cooked serve the jambalaya immediately.
Note: Don’t forget to adjust your seasoning throughout the cooking process. You can always add more, but you cannot take it out.
Living to eat,