Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rick's Creole Jambalaya

With Mardi Gras happening this coming Tuesday, I felt the need to celebrate by making a big-ol’ pot of my Creole jambalaya.  My jambalaya is “Creole-style” (also known as a “red jambalaya”) because it is made with tomatoes, unlike Cajun jambalaya which does not.  While jambalaya isn’t difficult to make, there are a lot of ingredients to chop!  Its spicy,  delicious and definitely worth the time and effort to make it.  You build the flavor in layers; cooking the ingredients in three stages.  The shrimp (or any other seafood items you want to use) are added near the end of cooking so they don’t overcook and get rubbery.  So make a big pot of jambalaya, have some friends over and “Bon Temps Rouler” (let the good times rolls!)


6 Tbs butter
1 lb shrimp (peeled, de-veined and tails removed)
1 Cup smoked ham, diced  (Louisiana-style “Tasso” is best for this recipe.)
4 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1” pieces
2 Andouille sausages, cut into ¼ inch slices
2 Cups sweet onion, diced
½ Cup green bell pepper
½ Cup red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, (about 1 cup) diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
14 oz. can Hunt’s diced tomatoes
1 Tbs Rick’s Ragin’ Cajun Seasoning (available at
1 Cup long grain white rice
1 Cup chicken broth (or maybe a little more)
¼ tsp dry tarragon
¼ tsp dry thyme
¼ tsp dry basil
¼ tsp dry oregano
1 bay leaf
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper.
1 Tbs fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnishing)
sea salt and black pepper.
¼ cup tomato juice.
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over high heat.  Saute the onions and celery until they become translucent.  Add the ham, chicken, sausage, bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, canned tomatoes, he dry spices and tomato juice.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Reduce the temperature to medium heat and add 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of long grain white rice.  Cook, stirring the Jambalaya occasionally, till the rice is half-cooked (it will be soft on the outside, but the middle will still be somewhat hard.)  Add the peeled shrimp and some additional chicken broth if there is not enough liquid to finish cooking the rice.  (Do not add too much broth because jambalaya is a rice dish and not a sauce dish!)  Now the secret to a really good jambalaya is that for the rest of the cooking time, do not stir it at all!  Like an authentic paella, it is traditional to let the rice get a little crispy on the bottom of the pan.  When the rice absorbs all the liquid and is fully cooked, turn off the heat and the jambalaya is done.  You’ll have to pay attention so you don’t burn it.  Spoon the jambalaya onto a serving dish or serve it in the pan garnished with the fresh parsley. The flavors of the meats, shrimp and Andouille sausage blend with the tomato, herbs, cayenne and the mixture of celery, onions and peppers.  The onion, celery and bell pepper is known as the “trinity” in a Louisiana kitchen.  A proper trinity is 2 parts onion, 1 part celery and 1 part bell pepper. Enjoy!

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