Lent is coming. If you practice that sort of thing.
I don’t, but at this time of year, this relapsed Catholic still can’t help but think of the many holidays and sacrifices (that I’m not making) ahead. But mostly, I think of the Mardi Gras celebrations to come in New Orleans.
Then, I think of the the cajun food that I can enjoy.
Most years, when it’s still cold and miserable in Iowa, I make a hearty gumbo. But I wanted to try something different this year. So, I asked Mom for her popular jambalaya recipe.
I can see why it’s so beloved amongst her friend group — it is literally full to the brim with meats and flavors. But like with the cassoulet I made earlier this year, I could not rationalize eating 6 pounds of meat, so I cut some back from her recipe (that seems to come from the USA Cookbook).
The ingredients I used were the same, but my amounts varied quite a bit, except in the rice to broth amounts so I could ensure I didn’t end up with jambalaya soup or dried rice.
It worked out perfectly, even though I made it on a weeknight. There was relatively little swearing, and I’m looking forward to the leftovers as it was still filled to the brim.
Hopefully, the Dutch oven will be empty before Fat Tuesday, which is March 5 this year. (Note: This is a joke. I would not keep food around that long.)
Here’s what I did:
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- 1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
- 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used more)
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, chopped (I used one red and one green)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 t. dried basil (I used more)
- ¼ t. cayenne (ha, I used way more, try 2 t.)
- 2 c. long grain rice
- 4 ½ c. chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
- 1 (14 oz.) can tomato sauce
- 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ¾ c. chopped fresh parsley, preferably flat-leaf
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Use slotted spoon to remove and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or bowl. Add the chicken pieces, and cook until just cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove and transfer to the same plate or bowl as the sausage.
Add the onions to the to the Dutch oven, and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add in the garlic, celery, bell peppers, bay leaves, cayenne, and basil. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the (uncooked rice) and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and add back in the meat. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and then cook covered for about 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Add in the shrimp, and parsley, and cook, covered, for another 5 or so minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through. Adjust the seasons, as necessary, and enjoy!