Did you remember to wear your beads? Are you drinking a Hurricane out of a yard-long glass? You didn’t forget about Mardi Gras already did you? No? Ok, good. Because today I have a Mardi Gras main course. I will show you how to make a Cajun (actually Creole if you want to get technical) favorite…..Jambalaya. In my house we call it “Princess” Jambalaya. There is a certain Disney movie that features a beautiful “princess” that is from New Orleans. This princess also cooks, and I am sure she loves jambalaya. I am not going to name names because I don’t want to be sued by the good people at Disney. I am sure you can figure out who she is…..
We call it “Princess” Jambalaya because it makes my kids want to eat it. They are both suckers for anything princess-y. We eat this all year round, but of course, it is perfect for Mardi Gras. Jambalaya is a rice/veggie/meat dish that is similar to a Spanish Paella. It is thick, like a stew. Perhaps we can even relate it to a risotto;) It usually contains meat, such as chicken and sausage, and seafood, such as shrimp. Since my husband is a complete buzzkill, and hates seafood, I make mine with chicken and sausage. Jambalaya can be spicy, or it can have more of a smoky flavor….We went over this last time….my kids are wusses, so mine isn’t too spicy. Jambalaya is super easy to make, which makes it perfect for entertaining. It can sit on the stove for a while, so you can make it before your guests come over. I hate cooking when my guests are at my house. I need to mingle!
I like to use Andouille sausage for this dish, but since I was making this for my family….I chose a garlic sausage. You can really use whatever you like….kielbasa, smoked sausage, hot dogs….I’m kidding. Don’t use hot dogs. I also use chicken thighs. I prefer the flavor of chicken thighs. I’m not a breast girl.
Above is everything else…..I used white onion, celery, bell peppers, a bay leaf, garlic, creole seasoning (you can also use Cajun), chicken stock, rice, crushed tomatoes, hot sauce, green onions for garnish and okra. Okra is a veggie that is popular in the American south. I use frozen diced okra. I promise you that if you live anywhere outside of the south, you will have a helluva time finding fresh okra. I defrost the okra first. I really don’t eat okra in anything else. It has a strange texture that makes it kind of unappealing on its own….but it’s great in this. I didn’t mean to be so mean to you, dear okra.
I start the recipe by browning the sausage, that I have chopped into bite sized pieces, in a bit of oil. This only takes a couple of minutes. Once browned, I remove the sausage and get started on the chicken.
Same idea with the chicken. I chop it and brown it. Once browned, I put that with the sausage….you remember where the sausage went, right?
After the meat is browned….I add the garlic, celery, white onion and bell peppers to the same pot. I also add about a tablespoon of Creole seasoning. I let this cook for about 5 minutes. The veggies will soak up all of the meat juices and get really good. This is one of the only times that talking about “meat juice” is appropriate.
Almost to the homestretch people. Now I add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, chicken stock, rice, hot sauce and meat back into the pot. Once it comes to a boil, it gets covered and simmered for 25 minutes. Don’t peak! When the 25 minutes are up, I stir in the okra, and cook it for 5 more minutes. Since it is defrosted, it only needs a few minutes to cook.
When the 30 minutes are up, the jambalaya will be nice and thick. The rice will be thoroughly cooked. This can sit on the stove (turned off) for quite a while and still remain hot. And…it tastes great room temperature too.
I garnish with green onions on top. If you want, you could also throw a couple of boiled shrimp on top, just don’t invite my husband or kids over. Or my niece Haleigh….but she has a legitimate reason. She is allergic to shrimp…..she doesn’t just hate good food like my kids;)
Above is the money shot…This jambalaya is so yummy and satisfying. And…you can finally say you’ve tried okra!
I will be back on Tuesday (Fat Tuesday!) with a recipe for a King Cake! Get ready to hide the baby! Don’t know what that means? You’ll find out;)
1 pound sausage, (Smoked, Andouille, Kielbasa, etc.) chopped into bite sized pieces
1 ½ pounds chicken thighs, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 celery stalks, diced
2 bell peppers, diced (any color)
1 medium white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon Cajun or Creole Seasoning
1 can crushed tomatoes, 28 ounces
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup rice, uncooked
1 cup frozen diced okra, defrosted
Hot sauce, to taste
Green onions, for garnish
In a large (5 quart) pot, brown sausage and chicken in a 2 tablespoons of oil, turning frequently. Once meat is browned, remove from pan and set aside. To pot, add garlic, celery, bell pepper and white onion. Add Cajun/creole seasoning. Sauté veggies for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, bay leaf and rice to pot. Stir. Add hot sauce to taste. Add meat back into pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover and cook, over medium heat, for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes, add okra. Cover and cook additional 5 minutes. Garnish with green onions.