You don’t need to take Fat Tuesday literally to celebrate Mardi Gras.
Cook a batch of our simple to make, veggie-filled jambalaya and you can eat with all the gusto of a New Orleans local – without all the guilt! Now what could be way better than that? In New Orleans and the surrounding regions, Creole cooks make a “red” jambalaya that starts with meat and the “trinity” of onion, celery, and bell pepper. Seafood and tomatoes are then added, followed by equal portions of rice and stock.
In the Louisiana bayous, where tomatoes were harder to come by, Cajun jambalaya begins with smoked meat browned in a cast-iron pot, providing this variation with its distinctive flavor and earthy hue. Stock and seasonings are then cooked together with vegetables, the meat is returned to the pot, and then rice is added. Like most dishes of early American origin, jambalaya was born of necessity, a delicious and inexpensive means of using whatever ingredients were likely on hand. Each cook and culture contributed their own unique variations. Tomato was likely the addition of Spanish cooks.
Cajun cooks concentrated on the meats of the low-lying swamps, appropriately adding a variety of bayou game and wild-gathered herbs. Jambalaya continues to be a multi-faceted mixture, with as many variations as there are cooks who make it. These days it’s often enjoyed as a one-pot party food, a delicious and inexpensive way to serve a crowd. Pass around a bottle of your favorite hot sauce, and enjoy warm comfort in a bowl with friends and family this Mardi Gras with this simple to make dish.
Creole-style Jambalaya with Chicken Andouille & Shrimp
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
8 cloves garlic (4 minced, 4 thinly sliced)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 12 ounce package spicy chicken andouille sausages, nitrate free preferred,
2 bunches scallions, white and green parts chopped separately
2 large green bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and diced
4 ribs celery with leaves, diced
2 pints grape tomatoes, half chopped, half quartered
3/4 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups chicken stock to a boil with the rice, grated garlic and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Dice one link of the chicken andouille sausage. In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced sausage and cook for 1 minute. Add about 2 tablespoons water, sliced garlic, scallion whites, bell peppers and celery. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes to pan, cooking, uncovered, until the tomatoes release their juices, about 4 minutes. Stir in the partially cooked rice. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over low heat, stirring, until the rice is tender, about 10 minutes.
While vegetables and rice are simmering, thinly slice the remainder of the andouille sausage. When rice is tender, stir in the sliced sausage, shrimp and quartered tomatoes. If the mixture seems dry, add 1/4 cup our more water or chicken stock to the pan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sausage is heated through and the shrimp are opaque, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the scallion greens on top and serve with Way Better Snacks Sweet Potato or Multi Grain Chips and a crisp green salad. Add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce, if desired.
What are you serving for Mardi Gras?
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