Monday, April 17, 2006


Jambalaya is a hearty southern (Cajun / Creole) dish of rice cooked with meats, vegetables, and spices. Recipes for jambalaya are highly varied; the Wikipedia has a summary of the dish.

What follows is an old Radagast family recipe (translate: my mom found it somewhere and made it frequently when I was a child; the original source has been lost). I make no claims that this is anything close to a traditional Creole or Cajun jambalaya; I only claim that it is absolutely delicious. We cooked this two weeks ago, but due to working on taxes last weekend I never got a chance to post it; thus, it's this week's end-of-the-week recipe blogging post.

While this recipe may seem long, it is actually easy to make. The primary work is chopping the meat and vegetables and then doing the initial cooking; after that it just simmers for an hour and needs very little tending.

1 to 1 1/2 pounds meat (kielbasa and ham are traditional for us, but see below for more ideas), cut into bite-sized (~1/2- to 1-inch) pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (less if using meat that will release fat)
4 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed with a garlic press
1 (29 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
2 cups white rice (we use jasmine, but most types will work)
1/2 cup chopped scallions (~1/2 bunch)

0) Have all the vegetables and meats chopped (and otherwise prepared) before beginning to cook.
1) Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed nonstick pot over medium-high heat.
2) Add the meat and cook, stirring frequently, until browned (if using shrimp or some other fast-cooking meat, add it after any other meats).
3) Add the chopped onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened (~5 minutes).
4) Add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring frequently.
5) Add the tomatoes and cook another 2 minutes.
6) Add the chicken stock and spices (bay leaves, chili powder, cayenne, thyme, cloves, allspice, salt, and pepper), stir to mix, and let simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
7) Add the rice, stir to mix, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes.
8) Reduce the heat to low (or whatever heat you normally cook rice over) and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
9) Remove the lid and stir, checking the moisture level. If the jambalaya is dry, add more liquid. Re-cover the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes.
10) Mix in the scallions and cook, uncovered, for another 5 minutes.


This recipe makes enough to serve four easily; it reheats excellently and makes for great lunches at work (that will have your coworkers insisting you tell them what you're eating). There are many possible meat choices, including andouille or kielbasa sausage, ham, chicken, and shrimp (though usually not all at once). We typically use about a pound of kielbasa sausage, though if we have ham available, we'll mix ham and kielbasa. Use whatever meats appeal to you.

Jambalaya is typically made with celery (in addition to bell peppers and onions), though since my SO doesn't like celery we've removed it from this recipe. The original Radagast family recipe calls for 2 chopped celery ribs and only 1 bell pepper; the celery is cooked with the other vegetables.

Probably the biggest problem you might encounter is the rice burning on the bottom of the pot while it cooks; I've found that this can happen if I use a thin-bottomed pot over too-high heat. If you find that the rice has burned (e.g., after the first 15 minutes of cooking), transfer the unburned jambalaya to a new pot and continue cooking - it should turn out fine. However, in the future you might want to use a different pot or lower heat during the simmering.

1 comment:

Radagast said...

Importing comments:


This recipe was taken from a cookbook that I bought (and have since given away) in New Orleans at a cooking school. Hence, it should be considered pretty authentic...
April 18, 2006, 4:00:17 AM PDT