My father-in-law makes jambalaya year round. I always enjoy it! I typically make it once a year after finding a new version to try for our celebratory Mardi Gras meal.
I was drawn to this recipe because it utilizes a slow cooker- and mine is underutilized. I learned that I should stick with my typical cooking methods! I significantly extended the cooking time for the rice, probably because I didn’t use parboiled rice. Oops. It was a little bit of a struggle. In the end, the rice did absorb all of the wonderful flavors of the dish. It was worth the wait!
The recipe was adapted from food52.com, contributed by Kristina Vanni. I used kielbasa instead of andouille sausage, chicken thigh instead of chicken breast meat, and modified the method and proportions. I loved that this version incorporated chicken, sausage, and shrimp.
We ended the feast with our annual King Cake, a family favorite.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 T tomato paste
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1 T Creole seasoning (I used Slap ya Mama)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
3 cups chicken stock
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (12 ounce) package andouille or kielbasa sausage, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch half-moons
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice, preferably parboiled (I used Basmati)
1 pound raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 21-25 count per pound)
sliced scallions, for garnish
Louisiana-style hot sauce, optional, for serving
In a large skillet or sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the onion, green bell pepper, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are softened. (Alternatively, set the slow cooker to the sauté setting and complete these steps.)
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the tomato paste, fresh thyme, Creole seasoning, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and transfer to the slow cooker.
In the same pan over medium to medium-high heat, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the sliced sausage and cook until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Add the cubed chicken to the skillet and cook until lightly browned; transfer to the slow cooker.
Add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine.
Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or on high for 2 to 3 hours. (I cooked the dish on high for 3 hours.)
If cooking on high and using long grain white rice that is not parboiled, add the rice to the pot after 1 1/2 hours. (I used Basmati rice and it took 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours on high to be fully cooked.)(If using parboiled rice, add it to the pot 20 to 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.)
Once the rice is tender, add the shrimp to the slow cooker, stir, and cook on high for 2 to 5 minutes more, stirring once or twice, until the shrimp are pink throughout and are fully cooked.
To serve, top with chopped scallions for garnish. Serve with Louisiana hot sauce for additional heat, as desired.
My entire family really looks forward to our Mardi Gras dinner. In all honesty, it’s because the meal is topped off with our traditional freshly-baked King Cake. Just writing about it makes me want some. 🙂
I typically make a Cajun main dish- usually shrimp jambalaya. This chicken and sausage version was incredible. My mother-in-law had just given us tons of fabulous Polish kielbasa as well. I was happy that my husband agreed to “sacrifice” it for our special dinner as it really added to the finished dish. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ian Knauer.
Okay… back to my belated Thanksgiving feast posts…
I struggle selecting a “stuffing” for our Thanksgiving Menu. This version was simple and perfect. I loved that it was a traditional Southern recipe and that it incorporated an unsweetened cast iron skillet cornbread.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Kim Severson. I used medium grind cornmeal. The cornbread is made the night before so that it can harden slightly. I let the cubed white bread sit out overnight as well. We ate it without incorporating meat, but this base recipe could easily be modified to include sausage or even nuts and/or apples. The author suggested eating leftovers mixed with shredded leftover turkey as well.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
For the Cornbread:
4 tablespoons/56 grams butter or bacon drippings
2 cups/340 grams yellow cornmeal, medium grind (use the freshest, best quality you can find)
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups/473 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full fat (I used low-fat)
For the Dressing:
3 cups soft white bread, crusts removed and torn or cut into 1-inch pieces (do not pack)
½ cup butter (1 stick), plus more for the pan
2 cups chopped sweet onions
1 ½ cups chopped celery (4 or 5 stalks)
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1 ¼ tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 to 5 cups rich chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade
3/4 pound pork sausage (such as spicy Italian sausage, fresh andouille or spicy Southern-style sausage)
2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped
Make the cornbread: Heat oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
Put butter in an 11-inch skillet. Cast-iron is best here, but any ovenproof skillet will do. Heat butter in oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until butter has melted and is just starting to brown.
While butter melts, whisk together cornmeal, salt and baking powder.
In another small bowl, lightly beat eggs, then add buttermilk and stir until mixture is combined.
Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir well.
Remove hot pan from oven, pour butter into batter and stir until batter looks uniform.
Pour batter back into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the top has begun to just brown.
Remove cornbread and let it cool on a rack.
Tear or cut it into large pieces and place in a large bowl. Let it sit out overnight to dry out slightly.
Prepare the dressing: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cornbread and white bread in a large bowl, tossing to mix, and breaking cornbread into smaller pieces.
Melt butter in a large skillet, and add onions, celery and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes.
Add vegetables to bread mixture and combine.
Lightly beat eggs and add to bowl.
Sprinkle in herbs, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper and toss together.
Add 4 cups broth and stir well.
Using your hands, work the mixture to get a very lumpy, thick, batter-like consistency.
Add another cup of stock if needed. The mixture should be very wet and pourable but without standing liquid.
Butter a 2-quart ovenproof dish. (such as an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. A deeper vessel could take longer to bake; a more shallow dish less time.)
Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake until dressing puffs slightly and has browned well around the edges, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
If you have drippings from a roasted turkey, spoon some over the top about 30 minutes into the baking time.
To Add Sausage: Brown 3/4 pound pork sausage in a pan, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Add to the bread mixture along with the vegetables.
To Include Nuts: Add 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped, to the vegetable and bread mixture.
My family has a Mardi Gras tradition- a meal of Jambalaya followed by King Cake for dessert. Festive and tasty. 🙂
I served this version of Jambalaya for our second annual feast (and more recently in 2023). It is from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee. I was initially interested in cookbooks by the Lee Brothers when one of their newer cookbooks was written up in the New York Times.
The recipe was adapted from their first cookbook. I love the story, background, and description they include with each recipe. I modified the method. I also substituted Old Bay for the Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil, used homemade turkey stock, and substituted kielbasa for the andouille sausage. Great.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1 pound shrimp (21-25 per pound), preferably with shells on (I used shrimp with tails on)
2 to 3 1/2 cups chicken stock or homemade stock
1 T Old Bay or Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil (see below)
1 T canola oil, plus more if necessary
10 to 12 ounces smoked andouille sausage or kielbasa, cut on the bias 3/4 inch thick
one 28-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes, drained, juice reserved (I used San Marzano)
1 cup long-grain rice (I used organic white Basmati rice)
6 3-4-inch-long fresh thyme stems or fresh parsley, for garnish
If using shell-on shrimp: Peel the shrimp and place in a bowl, reserving the shells separately. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 1/2 cups chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp shells and the Old Bay or Shrimp Boil (recipe below), turn the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the shells and discard. Turn off the heat and set aside. (I used peeled shrimp and omitted this step.)
In a broad-bottomed 4-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
Add the sausage, turning the pieces with tongs until the outer surface of the sausage pieces are browned all over, about 4 minutes total. Remove from the pan and place on a plate; set aside.
Add the chicken thighs to the sausage fat in the pot (in batches, if necessary; don’t crowd the pan). Sprinkle them with pinches of salt and pepper. Sauté them on one side until they are a rich golden brown, about 4 minutes, agitating them every so often and adding drops of oil, if necessary, to keep them from sticking.
Turn the thighs, sprinkle them again with pinches of salt and pepper, and sauté until the other side is nicely browned, about 3 to 4 additional minutes. Remove to a plate and reserve.
Add the chopped onion, garlic, and 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of reserved tomato juice to the pot and sauté, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the bottom, until the vegetables are softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, crushing them as you add them. Turn the heat to media-low and simmer until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and thickly soupy, 4-6 minutes.
Add the chicken, nestling the thighs in the stew. Add the sausage and any juices that may have drained from the chicken and the sausage.
If you skipped the first step (making shrimp stock), add 2 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of reserved tomato juice to the pot over the chicken and sausage. Sprinkle the Old Bay or Shrimp Boil over the top. (If you made the shrimp stock, strain the broth into a measuring cup and add enough of the remaining tomato juice to make 3 cups of liquid.)
Add the rice, making sure that the grains are submerged in the liquid.
Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over low heat for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid.
Turn off the heat and add the shrimp, stirring to distribute.
Let the jambalaya rest for 10 minutes before serving. The rice should be plump and very moist but not soupy.
Serve in bowls, and garnish with fresh parsley and/or thyme.
Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil
A shrimp boil is a spice blend that combines with water to make an instantly spicy and aromatic broth, a perfect medium for boiling all sorts of fish and shellfish. This recipe makes enough to season 4 gallons of water. Budget 1 T per 1 quart water.
Yield: Makes 1 scant cup
1 T peppercorns
1 T celery seeds
6 bay leaves, shredded with scissors
1/2 cup kosher salt
3 T ground cayenne pepper
Pound the peppercorns, celery seeds, and bay leaf with the salt in a mortar, in batches if necessary.
Place in a small bowl and stir in the cayenne.
Note: Stored in an airtight container, shrimp boil will keep for up to 2 months.