Food historians believe that the jambalaya so popular in Louisiana originated as a variation on paella that the Spanish brought with them to the southern state. There are lots of different ways to make jambalaya, but most recipes can be sorted into two groups: Creole-style, which includes tomatoes and/or tomato sauce, and Cajun or brown jambalaya, which doesn’t have tomatoes. This recipe is one that I really like that I found on the Serious Eats website. There’s a lot of prep work involved, but it’s well worth it for the delicious result.
- 1 28-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes, packed in juice
- About 3 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium store-bought broth, plus more as needed
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp vegetable, canola, or other neutral oil, plus more if needed
- 3/4 pound cooked Cajun or Creole sausage, such as andouille or chaurice (or other similar smoked or spiced pork sausage), sliced into thin rounds
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and diced
- 4 celery ribs, diced
- 4 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp. tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce, plus more for serving
- 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups long-grain rice
- 3/4 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
- 6 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- Strain tomatoes and add juice to a 4-cup measuring cup. Place tomatoes in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, carefully tear each tomato open to release the liquid inside its seed compartments. Strain all this liquid into a measuring cup. Crush tomatoes well with your hands. Add enough chicken stock to tomato juices to total 4 cups.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add chicken and cook, turning, until browned on both sides, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into 1/2-inch chunks and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add sausage to Dutch oven and cook, stirring often, until just starting to darken, about 3 minutes; lower heat and/or add oil at any point to prevent burning. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of Dutch oven, until browned bits have come loose and vegetables just begin to turn lightly golden, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add hot sauce, thyme, oregano, cayenne, garlic powder, and a very generous dose of black pepper. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato/stock mixture, diced chicken, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Season with salt, tasting liquid to ensure it is well seasoned.
- Stir in rice and return to a simmer. Cover with lid and transfer to oven. Bake until liquid is fully absorbed and rice is tender, about 40 minutes.
- Gently stir in shrimp and scallions and return to the oven until shrimp are just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Cover the pot and let it rest for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves, if desired.
Serve, passing hot sauce at the table for diners to add to taste.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.