Sunday, December 13, 2009

Really Easy Jambalaya

I'm really not all that familiar with jambalaya, or with cajun food for that matter.  I've had gumbo before, I think; when I was a little girl at girl-scout camp.  Aside from that, I have no idea about anything cajun.

A couple weeks ago my husband decided that he was craving Jambalaya.  I had two options.  I could go to the store and buy one of those rice packet things where you just add water and meat, or I could figure out how to make it myself.  Since those rice packets scare me- who knows what half of those chemical ingredients are?, I'd rather not eat them.- I decided to take the second route.  Piyush was away at his chess tournament and I knew he'd be hungry when he got home so I decided to surprise him with a gigantic pot of spicey goodness...and I do mean gigantic.  This recipe made enough to feed at least 12 people.  I should mention, it also freezes well.

The recipe comes from a book entitled Cajun Cooking by Arlene Coco, well, the outline of the recipe does at least.  I changed it quite a bit because I didn't have crawfish and had no idea where to find them this time of year in Rochester.  She entitles the recipe "Spottfair Jambayala."  I also like to mess with recipes...and this was no exception.

I'm going to post the recipe according to how I prepared it, and not according to the actual recipe.

  • 3 cups rice
  • 6 cups water
  • oil, a few tbsp - enough to saute the vegetables
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • About 5 to 6 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 onions, I used one purple and one yellow, diced
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 3 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes and their juice
  • 1 tbsp. italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun spice mix
  • Parsley
  • About 1.5 lbs shrimp
  • 1 ring smoked turkey sausage

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Rinse the rice and mix with the water.  Pour in a casserole dish and bake in the 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Be careful not to let the rice get dry though.  Let the rice rest for 20 minutes after removing from the oven.

2.  In a fry pan or a dutch oven melt the butter.  Add the sausage and the shrimp.  Season as you desire.  I added some red chile flakes, cumin powder, corriander powder, pepper, some more cajun seasoning and a few dashes of hot sauce.  Stir fry until the meats are cooked through and the spices smell fragrant. 

3.  In a very large dutch oven or big pot heat the oil.  Saute celery, onion, green pepper and garlic over medium high heat until soft.  This takes about 10 minutes.

4.  Once the vegetables are soft add the diced tomatoes and juice, italian seasoning and sugar.  Mix in the cajun spice blend and cook for about 20 minutes more on a low simmer.

5.  Add the meats, parsley and rice to the vegetable mixture and cook on low heat for a few minutes until everything is nice and warm.

Serve your jambalaya warm with many hot sauces to choose from. 

What I really love about this dish is that every person that eats it has the opportunity to make it as spicy as they want it. I don't have to worry about putting in too much chile powder, or not enough.  It's also a very filling dish, and super economical.  I highly recommend this, Piyush even gave it an A+, you know it's good when he gives something an A+.  That NEVER happens!


  1. Not a bad looking jambalaya, though it is certainly more creole than cajun. The tomatoes and italian seasoning clearly have an Italian influence which will only be found in Creole New Orleans cuisine. Real French-Cajun cuisine would not include any of those Italian flavors. Onion, celery, and bell pepper are the staples, or "Holy Trinity" of Cajun cooking. Also, most jambalayas stick to pork and chicken, not shrimp, crawfish, and turkey sausage. I really applaud the effort though, and if it was good, that's what really counts!

  2. Thanks for the comment! Looks like I have a little more research to do. I think I'd prefer the pork and the chicken anyway. I'm definitely going to be trying this again, after I find a better recipe!