Deliciously Unconventional Jambalaya

Not quite authentic Cajun cooking, yet much better than many other recipes you’ll find on a Google search. Recipe following the pictures. No backstory required.

Lots of ingredients and prep, yet so easy to put together.
Cajun Caldron pt. 1, just after most ingredients added.
Cajun Caldron pt. 2, after 20 minutes of cooking.
A bowl of feel-good cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound medium (51-60 count per lb) shrimp (thawed if store bought frozen)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced diagonally
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Fresno pepper, halved and then thinly sliced
  • 6 okra pods, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 green onions, sliced diagonally
  • 1 28 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes (do not drain tomato water)
  • 1 quart broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 tbsp (or more) smoked paprika
  • Cajun spice (recommend Tony Chachere’s Creole blend)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Procedure:

  1. Prep the ingredients accordingly as described above.
  2. Set a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil to pot and swirl to coat surface. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery to the pot and “sweat” them until near translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Stir occasionally and adjust heat as needed to prevent burning.
  3. Meanwhile, set a large pan over medium-high heat. Add a little bit of oil and add chicken when warm. Dust the chicken with Cajun seasoning. Cook until all sides are light brown and set aside from heat, about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Set a small pan over medium-high heat and add a small bit of oil. Add okra when hot. Saute each side of okra for 1-2 minutes, or brown. This step will remove slime from the okra. Once done set in small bowl.
  5. After the vegetable mixture has softened and began turning translucent, add garlic, Fresno peppers, paprika, a fair load of Cajun seasoning (probably 3 tbsp), and enough salt and pepper for your preference and stir thoroughly.
  6. After 1-2 minutes, add rice. Stir thoroughly.
  7. Immediately after rice is stirred in, add chicken, sausage, can of tomatoes, okra, and broth (your pot will look like picture #2 above). Bring pot to a low boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to medium. Stir every 5 minutes.
  8. After 15 minutes of cooking, add shrimp and stir.
  9. Remove lid after 20 minutes of cooking and stir well. The jambalaya may appear stew-like (see photo #3). If you desire less broth, continue cooking with lid off for 2-3 more minutes.
  10. Serve in bowls, top with sliced green onions.

Notes:

  • Most recipes I’ve found online use long grain rice in order to prevent a mushy texture. Arborio rice doesn’t seem to have this problem for a shorter grain. Though the grains may clump together easier like sticky rice, the rice remains tender and firm.
  • Regarding measuring oils and spices: I don’t exactly measure spices and oils with spoons but gauge with my eyes, tongue, and nose…if something looks dry or is burning then add more oil. Make sure to take tastes of your creation as you go, and add more seasoning when you think is appropriate.
  • This recipe makes somewhere between 4-8 servings depending on the serving size. If you have leftovers, I suggest sprinkling some water onto your serving before reheating to prevent overcooking and that mushy texture that could result from overcooking.

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