Back at the beginning of January I shared some of my food goals that I had for myself this year. One of those goals is to be more adventurous when it comes to trying different regional cuisines that I’m not familiar with; whether that be international cuisine or regional American cuisine and whether out to eat or cooking at home. Well, a week before Fat Tuesday, cue the jambalaya!
Cajun and Creole cuisines are one of the regional American varieties that I am admittedly very, very unfamiliar with. I’ve never visited the region and I can’t say that I’ve really tried any classic dishes in restaurants either. With Mardi Gras in full swing this weekend, I thought it was a great excuse to whip up a traditional Creole recipe – jambalaya.
I was watching one of my DVR’ed Barefoot Contessa episodes when I saw her make this dish. While I had never tasted jambalaya before, I thought her version looked and sounded fabulous! I have seen variations with both sausage and chicken or just chicken and shrimp, but I liked the combo of sausage and shrimp in this one. And with all of the other fresh vegetables, herbs and spices that get melded and simmered together, I couldn’t resist whipping up a big pot. And I totally fell in love! All of the flavors were superb and it has a great kick to it (which you can adjust based on your preferences).
Important Note: The dish really isn’t as brothy as it looks in the photos. There was some extra liquid towards the bottom of the pot that I fished out because, well, I’m Italian and I like soaking up sauce with bread. I can’t help it. Scooped out normally, it’s lots of rice, sausage, shrimp and veggies with just a bit of liquid.
1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the kielbasa and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned. Remove the kielbasa to a bowl, and set aside.
2. Add the ham to the same pot and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to the bowl with the kielbasa, and set aside.
3. Add the butter, onion, celery and peppers to the same pot and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
4. Add the tomato, garlic, jalapeno or cayenne, oregano, thyme, and tomato paste and cook until all the vegetables and herbs are blended well.
5. Add the stock and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the rice, and add the sausage, ham, bay leaves, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
6. Add ¼ cup of the scallions, ¼ cup of the parsley, the lemon juice and the shrimp, and stir well. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and allow the jambalaya steam, for 15 minutes, before serving.
7. Garnish with the remaining ¼ cup scallions and ½ cup parsley, and a dash of hot sauce, if desired.