Every Cajun and Creole family has its own jambalaya recipe. The dish originated as pure peasant food—a way to stretch leftover meat or seafood with rice and spices. Somewhere along the way, bits of ham, sausage, or tasso was added. Meat-based jambalayas are often saturated with pan gravy and a rich brown color. Seafood-based jambalaya is more often tomato-based. Either way, it’s a great potluck dish. Just don’t leave it untethered in the trunk like Mom did!
If shrimp are too pricey, or you know some guests are allergic to seafood, you can substitute diced boneless chicken breasts for the shrimp.
Serves 12 to 15
- 1 pound andouille or smoked sausage, sliced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 small bell pepper, cored and diced
- 1 small rib celery, trimmed and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
- 4 cups shrimp broth, chicken broth, or water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 3 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (see Note)
- 7 cups steamed white rice
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
In a tall soup pot or Dutch oven, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, stirring, for one minute. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the pot and continue to cook, stirring, until onions begin to appear translucent.
Add tomato sauce, broth, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and bay leaves to the mix. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 1 1/2 hours. The sauce should reduce and thicken.
Stir in shrimp and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until shrimp turns opaque. Remove from heat and add two-thirds of the cooked rice to the sauce. Fold the rice in, allowing the rice to soak up the sauce. Add remaining rice in small increments and stop adding rice when sauce appears completely absorbed. In general, the ratio is 2 cups of shrimp-and-sausage sauce to every 2 1/2 cups of rice; however, if you’re not serving the jambalaya immediately, leave the mixture a little on the wet side.
Stir parsley and green onions into the hot rice mixture. Serve warm from a slow cooker or heating tray.
Reprinted with permission from “Roux Memories: A Cajun-Creole Love Story With Recipes” by Belinda Hulin. Published by Lyons Press.