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.
Before I was introduced to this recipe, I thought that borscht was always a deep red, beet-based soup. I now know that borscht means “sour.” The sour tang in this soup comes from soaking sourdough bread in the broth, puréeing it, and incorporating it into the finished soup, along with crème fraiche which is stirred in just prior to serving.
I made my first homemade borscht (the beet-based version) for Christmas Eve, and my husband purchased pierogies at a Polish store for the same meal. Luckily, I saw this recipe and he was also able to buy house-made garlic kielbasa for this soup. The quality of the kielbasa is very important because it is used to create the broth for the base of this soup.
This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Gabrielle Hamilton. I followed the recipe closely, but may decrease the amount of butter next time- I’m not sure it was necessary! (but it was quite delicious 😉 ) It was a creamy, indulgent, and delicious upgrade of potato-leek soup. Fabulous cold-weather comfort food.
Yield: 5 quarts, Serves 10 to 12
2 1/4 to 2 1/2pounds full horseshoe link of high-quality smoked kielbasa
5fresh bay leaves
3pounds leeks (6 long, lively leeks)
3pounds russet potatoes (about 4)
1cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1large yellow onion, small-diced (about 2 cups)
6garlic cloves, minced
1(4-ounce) hunk of dense, very sour sourdough bread, crusts removed
Cut kielbasa into 4 to 5 equal lengths, and cover in a pot with 3 quarts cold water and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then let gently boil for 25 minutes more until swollen and cooked through and beads of oil have formed.
Pull sausages from the now smoky and seasoned water, and set aside. Save that water!
While the kielbasa simmers, split leeks in half lengthwise, then soak and rinse in cold water to thoroughly remove all sand. Slice leeks into 3/8-inch half-moons from whites to dark greens, as far up as is viable.
Peel potatoes, trim all four sides to stabilize on the cutting board and trim both ends to “box” the potato. Save the scraps. Cut the boxes into large cubes, about 3/4-inch square.
In a sturdy soup pot (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven), melt 1 stick butter over low heat until foaming.
Stir in onion, garlic and a healthy pinch of salt, and let them sweat for a full 5 minutes until translucent.
Stir in remaining butter, the sliced leeks and another generous pinch of salt, then let sweat slowly over low heat for 8 minutes until moist, bright green and glossy.
Add potato scraps, the cube of bread and half the kielbasa boiling liquid. Let gently simmer 10 minutes while the potato scrap softens and the bread hunk becomes flabby and swollen. If you need to increase the heat to get a little simmer going, do so.
Meanwhile, slice kielbasa in half lengthwise. Place two pieces back into the soup pot as is, and then slice the remaining 6 pieces into very thin, 1/8-inch half-moons, and set aside.
Retrieve the soggy lump of sourdough bread with a slotted spoon, and don’t worry if you also get a few bits of leek or onion or whatever is floating in the soup when you pull it out. Also remove about 1 cup of liquid, and set aside.
Add potato cubes and the rest of the kielbasa liquid to the pot. Add another pinch of salt and half the black pepper. Let it come back to temperature, and then to simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 25 minutes more.
Using either a stick blender or a traditional blender, purée the sodden hunk of bread until foamy, using half of the liquid you pulled in Step 10, if needed. (I used a Vitamix.) Stir this back into the soup pot once the potatoes are cooked through.
Slice the reserved kielbasa and return all of the kielbasa to the pot.
Whisk the crème fraîche with remaining 1/2 cup of the hot reserved liquid; stir mixture into the soup.
Stir in the chopped dill and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon pepper. Serve very hot.
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.
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.
I make this soup from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, (via Martha Stewart Living) every year. I usually make it around Thanksgiving because when I used to order our turkey at the local butcher, I picked up some terrific kielbasa made in Lindenhurst, New York. The past couple of years, I changed to a brined Trader Joe’s turkey- but I still go to the butcher to get the kielbasa. I made this soup after Thanksgiving this year and it was the best it has ever been! We love it already, but the use of homemade turkey stock and fresh parmesan grated over the top made it even more wonderful.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
1 pound French green lentils
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 large yellow onions (about 3 pounds), finely chopped
3 medium leeks (about 1 1/2 pounds), white part only, cut into 1/4-inch half moons and washed
3 quarts homemade chicken stock, or canned low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound Kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 T red-wine vinegar
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water, and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. (I always skip this step!)
Warm the olive oil in a large stockpot set over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, garlic, thyme, cumin, salt, and pepper, and sauté, stirring frequently, until vegetables are translucent, about 20 minutes. Add the celery and carrots, and sauté, stirring frequently, 5 minutes more. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils; cover, and bring to a boil.
Uncover, reduce heat to medium low, and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked through, about 1 hour. Stir in the sausage and red-wine vinegar, and simmer until sausage is heated through, about 5 minutes more. Serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.