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.
I served this tasty dish for our Mardi Gras dinner followed by our essential celebratory King Cake for dessert. It was festive and delicious.
I admittedly used Cajun seasoning instead of Creole Seasoning- gasp! After making the dish, I read about the similarities and differences between the Cajun and Creole cuisines. Both cuisines use a roux, the “holy trinity” composed of onions, bell peppers, and celery sautéed in oil, and both are from Southern Louisiana. Cajun food incorporates more smoked meats and rice, such as jambalaya, and is from more rural parts of the region whereas Creole cuisine, such as étouffée, is from New Orleans. I included the recipe for the homemade Creole seasoning below. (for next time!)
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Vallery Lomas. I modified the cooking times and doubled the garlic. I also used store-bought seasoning and omitted the dried basil. The shrimp was cooked perfectly.
Yield: Serves 4
For the Creole Seasoning: (Optional)
1tablespoon smoked paprika
1tablespoon chili powder
1teaspoon onion powder
1teaspoon garlic powder
1/2teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less, if desired)
1/2teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2teaspoon black pepper
For the Shrimp:
1pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used large tail-on shrimp)
2teaspoons homemade or store-bought Creole seasoning, divided (I used Slap ya Mama)
1/4cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick / 4 T)
1/3cup (5 T) all-purpose flour
1medium or large yellow onion, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
2celery ribs, thinly sliced
1green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 to 8garlic cloves, minced (I used a food processor)
1(15-ounce) can tomato sauce (no salt added)
1 to 2teaspoons hot sauce, to taste (optional) (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
1teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 T fresh thyme)
1/2teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/2 T fresh oregano)
1/2teaspoon dried basil (or 1/2 T fresh basil)
2dried bay leaves
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4cup)
1/4cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
steamed rice, for serving (I used white Basmati rice)
Make the optional Creole seasoning: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir together. The seasoning makes about 1/4 cup; store it in a closed container in a cool, dry place. (Only 2 teaspoons are used in this dish.)
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Then toss the raw shrimp with 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning and set aside.
In a Dutch oven or large, heavy skillet with a lid, melt the butter over medium-low heat. (I used a low and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
Sprinkle the flour on top and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until a roux the color of peanut butter forms, about 5 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully- if the roux burns it cannot be saved.
Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper, increase the heat to medium and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
Stir in 1/3 cup water, then the tomato sauce, hot sauce (if using), sugar, thyme, oregano, basil (if using), bay leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally to make sure that the bottom doesn’t burn. (If needed, add more water.)
Once the stew has thickened, add the seasoned shrimp and simmer until opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes, turning each piece halfway through the cooking time. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes, uncovered.
Serve over steamed rice sprinkled with sliced scallions and chopped parsley.
This is a great summer meal. We have already tried a couple versions!
The first time I served this meal, I shredded grilled chicken thighs and dressed them with Trader Joe’s mustard barbecue sauce. We topped them with the quick dill pickles (below) and ate them as classic sandwiches.
The second time, I served the sandwiches in an open face fashion and we ate them with a knife and fork. I shredded a rotisserie chicken and dressed the meat with the tomato-based barbecue sauce (below) and topped them with my favorite Easy Fridge Dill Pickles.
This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I used various barbecue sauces and pickles. I also served the sandwiches on slices of a Honey Beer Bread loaf. We ate the sandwiches with potato chips on one occasion and with homemade Curly Fries on the second occasion. Corn on the cob would also be great. The original recipe suggests serving them with cole slaw- next time!
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.
Our family tradition is to enjoy Jambalaya followed by King Cake on Mardi Gras– is it terrible that we’ve only had the first course so far? Mardi Gras snuck up on me this year! So, the King Cake has been delayed to the weekend…. it will be well worth the wait. (My family doesn’t mind as long as I make it!) 🙂 I modified this wonderful, colorful dish to include clams- and not just clam juice. I also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and smoked chicken andouille sausage. This recipe was adapted from The New Best Recipe from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Hope you enjoyed your Mardi Gras celebration too!!
Yield: Serves 6
1 large sweet onion, trimmed and quartered
1 medium celery rib, cut crosswise into quarters
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and quartered lengthwise
6 medium to large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp vegetable oil
5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
8 to 12 ounces andouille sausage (I used 12 oz smoked chicken andouille sausage), halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (I used basmati)
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
6.5 ounces canned clams with juice
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 large bay leaves
1 pound large shrimp (31 to 40 per pound), peeled and deveined, if desired
2 T minced fresh parsley leaves, optional, as garnish
In a food processor, pulse the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic until chopped fine, about six 1-second pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Do not over process; the vegetables should not be pureed.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the andouille; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chopped vegetables, and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the rice, salt, thyme and cayenne; cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is coated with fat, about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes with juice, clams with juice, broth, bay leaves, and browned sausage to the pot; stir to combine.
Place the chicken on the rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir once, keeping the chicken on top. Replace the cover and continue to simmer until the chicken is no longer pink when cut into with a paring knife, about 10 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a clean plate and set aside.
Scatter shrimp over the rice, cover, and continue to cook until the rice is fully tender and the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
While the shrimp are cooking, shred the chicken with your fingers into thin strands. When the shrimp are cooked, discard the bay leaves.
Off the heat, stir in the parsley, if using, and shredded chicken; serve immediately.
I think the browned butter drew me to this recipe- it really made this dish delicious. Meuniere translates as “miller’s wife” and refers to cooking something after dredging it in flour. In this dish, the fish fillets are dredged in flour, sautéed, and then topped with a lemon, browned butter, parsley and caper sauce. It was a lovely meal that was quick to prepare. This recipe was adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple but Classic French Recipes by Rachel Khoo. Lemon sole, Pacific halibut or trout can be substituted for the Dover sole.
1 pound of Dover sole fillets, skin removed
6 T all-purpose flour
1 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 T grapeseed oil, divided
4 T unsalted butter, cut into cubes
juice of 1 lemon
2-3 T chopped parsley
1 T capers, drained and rinsed
Mix the flour with the salt and pepper and spread out over a large plate. Pat the fish fillets in the flour, evenly coat, and shake off excess.
Heat 1 1/2 T oil in a large frying pan over medium-high to high heat. When the oil is smoking, place the half of the fish in the pan and lower the heat slightly. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden. Place the fish on a warmed plate covered with aluminum foil and repeat with the remaining fish fillets.
Wipe the pan clean with paper towels and return to medium heat. Add butter and cook until light brown and fragrant.
Remove pan from heat and add lemon juice. (It will splatter!) Add parsley and capers and combine.
Dress the fish with the sauce and serve. Alternatively, return the fish to the pan and spoon over the sauce and serve.
My family has started a new tradition- a Mardi Gras meal of Jambalaya followed by King Cake (my first post) for dessert. YUM! I served this version of Jambalaya for our second annual feast. 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. My husband went to High School with Matt Lee in Charleston, South Carolina. This recipe is from their first cookbook- I think it’s great. I love the story, background, and description they have written with each recipe. I substituted Old Bay for the Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil, and used homemade turkey stock, chorizo, and a sweet onion.
Yield: 6 servings
1 pound headless medium shrimp (41-50 per pound), shells on
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 T Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil (I used Old Bay)
1 T canola oil, plus more if necessary
10 ounces smoked andouille sausage or chorizo, cut on the bias 3/4 inch thick
6 chicken thighs, skinned (about 2 pounds) (I used boneless)
about 2 tsp salt
about 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
5 large garlic cloves, chopped
One 28-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
1 cup long-grain rice
Six 3-4-inch-long fresh thyme stems
Peel the shrimp and place in a bowl, reserving the shells separately. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp shells and the shrimp boil, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the shells and discard. Turn off the heat.
In a broad-bottomed 4-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the sausage, turning the pieces with tongs until the outer surface of the sausage pieces are browned all over, about 6 minutes total. Remove to a plate and reserve the sausage.
Brown the chicken: Add the chicken thighs to the sausage fat in the pot- in batches, if necessary; don’t crowd the pan- and 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. Remove to a plate and reserve.
Add the onion, garlic, and 1/4 cup 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. Then add the sausage and any juices that may have drained from the chicken and the sausage.
Strain the broth into a measuring cup and add enough of the remaining tomato juice to make 3 cups of liquid. Add the liquid to the pot and then add the rice. Cover and cook over low heat for 25 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 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. Stored in an airtight container, it will keep for up to 2 months.