It’s Yum-Yum Friday again on The Midnight Goose–and let me make one thing clear. I am not picky. I will eat almost anything except beets or sauerkraut. And even that is not always true. I’m sure there’s other things…but for the most part, I’m adventurous. However, when I cook–I’m not just cooking for me. I’m also cooking for Jo-Jo, and that can complicate things. I have to be careful what I add to recipes, which vegetables are in them, so on and so forth. Additionally, when I make Yum-Yum Friday meals…it’s generally something that I’m going to meal prep for the following week.
Having said all that–this recipe is great with jalapeno, okra, and shrimp added to it. However, I wasn’t sure that Jo-Jo would deal well with the jalapeno and okra–and shrimp does not do well in meal prep, in my opinion. It gets a little chewy and overdone when heated up. Also, okra is more common in gumbo, as opposed to Jambalaya–so I didn’t want people coming “@” me. So those things are left out of this recipe. But I will make sure to mention in the steps where you would add each of those ingredients if you choose to use them. Fair enough? Good.
Side note: this is an awesome meal to make for a big crowd (i.e. the whole fam damily), it’s easy to make, and can be made in one pot–so there are less dishes to wash up at the end. And almost EVERYONE loves Jambalaya, right?
At its heart, Jambalaya is Creole/Cajun “chicken and rice”. A comfort food. It’s from Louisiana and is of Spanish and French origin. It almost always consists of a type of sausage (usually andouille), some other meat (chicken, beef, pork, shrimp), the “Holy Trinity” of Creole/Cajun cooking (celery, onion, bell pepper–as opposed to a soffritto of celery, onion, and carrot), rice, stock, and seasonings. It’s a fairly easy dish to make, and the cost all depends on the meats you use.
Usually, I use sausage and shrimp in my Jambalaya, and sometimes a little chicken. Today, though, I’m using sausage and chicken–see my disclaimer above–without the shrimp. Also, andouille is not always in stock in my neck of the woods (which is crazy for North Central Texas), so I just substituted Eckridge brand sausage. It’s a travesty, I know–but this recipe gives you the method for making the dish. You use the meats you like–you. do. you.
So…let’s get started!
2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 lbs of sausage, cut into slices or “moon” shapes.
6 cups of chicken stock (pork, beef, seafood, whatever)
3 cups white rice
28 oz can Rotel (or chopped, stewed tomatoes, I prefer the heat of Rotel)
4 cups of celery, onion, bell pepper, chopped (about 2 medium onions, 3 celery stalks, 2 bell peppers)
Minced, jarred garlic–or about 4 fresh cloves, minced
3 dried Bay Leaves–or 2 fresh Bay Leaves
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper (or to taste)
Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper
Side note: let’s talk Creole seasoning versus Cajun seasoning. Creole seasoning has more herbs, like oregano, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, parika, parsley…while Cajun seasoning is more based on the use of numerous peppers. Creole seasoning, for me, produces more depth of flavor in the Jambalaya, while Cajun seasoning just makes it spicier, but doesn’t add much flavor. So, I prefer Creole seasoning–but you do what makes you happiest. You can always use both if you like, too.
The first thing we want to do is to get a large pot (an 8 quart Dutch oven will do it) heated over medium-high, and start cooking up our chicken with a tbsp of olive oil. Go ahead and give the chicken a healthy sprinkling of Creole seasoning, as well as salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the chicken over medium-high until it is about half done. Next, add your sausage to the chicken, stir, and continue to cook over medium-high heat until all of the liquid from the chicken is gone, your chicken is cooked through, and your sausage is starting to get some color on it.
The next step is to add the “Holy Trinity” (celery, onion, and bell pepper), your 3 dried Bay Leaves (or 2 fresh), the cayenne, give it a nudge occasionally, and let the vegetables cook through. This will take ten-ish minutes. (If you’re using jalapeno–1 to 2, chopped, depending on your desired heat level–add it with the other veggies. If you want higher heat, don’t discard the ribs and seeds!). Then add your garlic, give it another nudge, and let it cook for another minute. Feel free to add more seasoning with your vegetables, if you wish. I did.
Next, remove your Bay Leaves (remember how many you used so you don’t miss any), and then add your canned Rotel, and give it another nudge. Let everything cook together a few more minutes.
Next, add your 3 cups of rice, your 6 cups of stock (and more Creole seasoning if you like–I did), and wait for it to start bubbling. Once it’s beginning to boil, cover your pot tightly with a lid, and turn the heat to a simmer. Make sure to give it a stir every 10 minutes or so, so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. That would just be tragic.
If you are using shrimp and okra–after 20 minutes, add the okra (about 1 cup, thinly sliced). Then in another 5-10 minutes, add your shrimp. After the shrimp is cooked through (5 minutes tops), your Jambalaya is ready to eat!
Oh. My. Lanta. So good! Such a yummy, belly filling, soul-soothing meal! Serve it up in heaping bowls and you have a complete meal–or serve it with a side of greens and a big hunk of good ole cornbread (sweet is my choice)! Or some crusty bread of your choice is fine, too–sopping up the juices is always delicious!
Until next time…