One of my favorite dishes in the world is Spanish Paella. Sadly, I have not found a good Paella dish in Houston. It’s not that they taste horrible, it’s just not made the traditional way in a wide flat pan over fire, so that the edges get crispy and a little burnt. Also, I can’t justify the high price tag for the low quality.
Normally, this would prompt me to learn how to make Paella at home, but after reading several recipes (even the easy versions), I’ve decided that it’s not worth the effort to buy all the expensive ingredients and follow a million steps to get there. Thankfully, Jambalaya exists to cure my cravings.
I know Jambalaya & Paella are complete different recipes. Paella is seasoned with saffron and Jambalaya is seasoned with Cajun/Creole. Paella uses short grain Spanish rice while Jambalaya uses long grain rice. Paella is also cooked over fire and Jambalaya is cooked over the stove. Somehow, however, the final product ends up tasting very similar to each other!
Below is a recipe that I’ve taken bits and pieces from several recipes to make the ultimate, perfect balance of ingredients and seasoning – well at least to my preference.
The number of ingredients may seem a lot at first, but most of these you should already have in your pantry. If not, they are easy to find in your local grocery store and/or they’re inexpensive.
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil, divided (1 tablespoon to cook sausage, 2 tablespoons to cook chicken breast)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Cajun (Slap Ya Mama) or Creole seasoning (Tony’s) or a mix of both, divided (half to season meats, half to stir in the pot)
- 10 ounces Cajun andouille sausage, sliced into rounds (if you cannot find this, you can use Mexican chorizo sausage)
- 1 pound chicken breast, diced into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 green pepper, diced
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 15 oz (1 can) crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons Italian Herb Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne powder (omit or lessen if you’re sensitive to spice)
- 1/2 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce (or any hot sauce)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup thinly sliced okra
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice (I use Jasmine)
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound raw shrimp, tail on, peel & deveined, thawed
- Sliced green onions and finely chopped parsley, to garnish
- Before you start cooking anything, it helps to chop/dice/mince/portion most of the ingredients because you’re going to need to quickly add ingredients while cooking.
- First, dice your “holy trinity” – the onion, red pepper, green pepper, and celery. Put them all together in a medium sized bowl. Then, mince your garlic cloves and put in a separate, small bowl. Slice the okra and put in another separate bowl (sometimes I use measuring cups as bowls). Slicing your veggies first helps prevent cross contamination (although it may not matter at this point since everything is going to cook together).
- In another small bowl, mix together the Italian seasoning, salt, ground black pepper, Cayenne pepper, and half (3/4 tablespoon) of Cajun/Creole seasoning. At this point, you can open the can of crushed tomatoes too.
- Slice your sausages into rounds. Then dice the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Don’t mix the meats together since we’re going to cook them separately, but you can put them on the same plate/bowl. Season sausage and chicken with the other half (3/4 tablespoon) with Cajun/Creole seasoning.
- Finally, you can begin cooking.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot (Dutch oven works too) over medium heat. When the oil is hot, brown the sausage, about 5 minutes. Remove sausages with a slotted spoon, set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the same pot and cook the chicken until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon, set aside along with the sausages.
- Sauté the holy trinity (onion, bell peppers, celery) until the onion is soft and transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about 30-45 seconds until you want to dip your face in the pot because it smells so good.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, the salt/pepper/Italian herbs/cayenne pepper/Cajun seasoning mix, Frank’s Red Hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Then, stir in the sausage, chicken, and sliced okra. Cook for 5 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
- Add in the rice and chicken broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low-medium. Cover and let it simmer for 20-24 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked. Make sure you stir occasionally to avoid rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Place the shrimp in the Jambalaya mixture and stir carefully, and cover with a lid. Cook for another 6-7 minutes until shrimp is cooked through (should be pink). I use a normal-sized shrimp, but if you are using smaller/bigger ones, cook less/more.
- Taste your Jambalaya and adjust seasoning if needed – if you don’t think it’s spicy enough, add more Cajun/Creole or Cayenne pepper.
- Garnish with sliced green onions and finely chopped parsley.