The Best Jambalaya Ever--and Great for a Crowd

The Best Jambalaya Ever–and Great for a Crowd

This is one of those perfect dishes to make when you don’t know what to make, and it’s a huge crowd pleaser. With the Super Bowl in New Orleans and Mardi Gras coming, a little Cajun comfort food seems just right. Full of shrimp, sausage, chicken, and sumptuously savory rice, […]

This is one of those perfect dishes to make when you don’t know what to make, and it’s a huge crowd pleaser. With the Super Bowl in New Orleans and Mardi Gras coming, a little Cajun comfort food seems just right. Full of shrimp, sausage, chicken, and sumptuously savory rice, this jambalaya is fool-proof and make-ahead-able. What’s not to love?! Serve family style or from the the kitchen with a simple salad and a good sourdough bread, and you’ve got a pretty fabulous feast.

Jambalaya
Stephanie Valentine's Jambalaya

Here is the redoubtable Rancho La Zaca Chef Stephanie Valentine’s spin on this Southern surf and turf classic, followed by a few notes on how I’d make it if she weren’t looking.

Jambalaya
Serves 12
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds shrimp (16-20 shrimp per pound), peeled and veined
  2. 1 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into pieces and boned except for the legs
  3. 2 to 3 tablespoons Creole seasoning, plus 1 tablespoon extra (store-bought or recipe below)
  4. 4 tablespoons olive oil
  5. 1 cup chopped onion
  6. 1 cup chopped celery
  7. 3/4 cup chopped green pepper
  8. 3/4 cup chopped red pepper
  9. 2 tablespoons butter
  10. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  11. 2 3/4 cups rice, long grain white (not instant)
  12. 2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  13. 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  14. 1 1/2 pounds andouille sausage cut in 1/4-inch slices
  15. 7 cups stock, chicken, shrimp, seafood or combination thereof (You may want to have a little extra if you want a soupier consistency)
  16. 1 bunch scallions, sliced, for garnish
Creole Seasoning
  1. 1 tablespoon black pepper
  2. 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  3. 2 tablespoons onion powder
  4. 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  5. 3 tablespoons salt
  6. 3 tablespoons paprika
Instructions
  1. Season shrimp and chicken pieces with Creole seasoning.
  2. Heat oil in large heavy stockpot over medium heat and brown chicken skin side down. Remove and set aside.
  3. In same pan add butter, onion, celery, peppers and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often. The vegetables should be well cooked but not browned.
  4. Add rice and stir for about a minute.
  5. Then add tomatoes, Worcestershire, sausage, and chicken. Slowly add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Taste broth and adjust seasonings.
  6. Reduce heat to lowest setting, and add shrimp. Cover and cook for 6 to 10 minutes more.
  7. To serve, sprinkle with a little more Creole Seasoning and top with sliced scallions.
Notes
  1. Y'all know I am sort of a lazy cook. If pressed for time or energy, I take short-cuts. Stephanie would never do this, but Lord knows I am not Stephanie. Anyway - I buy frozen shrimp already cleaned. I buy a chicken already roasted. If I can't find andouille (at the Piggly Wiggly in Tarboro), I use spicy kielbase or other spicy sausage. I use a combination of bottled clam juice and chicken stock from concentrate - or Knorr's. And those Parmalat chopped tomatoes in a box are a staple for me, especially this time of year. If you are making it ahead, wait to add the shrimp when you re-heat it. Shrimp cooks very quickly and you don't want them to be overcooked and turn into rubber rainboots, which is what they'd taste like.
  2. The best rice in the world, and I am not exaggerating, is from Carolina Rice Plantation, and you can order it from the website. Our friend Caroline from Charleston gave us some as a wedding gift and it was a revelation. I never paid that much attention to rice, but hooo-boy. And then when I went to look up the company, it is owned by a boy I had a crush on when I was, like, 10. Clearly this deserves its own post, and it shall have one. Stay tuned...
Frances Schultz http://www.francesschultz.com/
Jambalaya, photo by Stephanie Valentine
Jambalaya, photo by Stephanie Valentine

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