Jambalaya! You immediately think New Orleans, French Quarter, Louisiana cooking and all that jazz! It’s a one pot wonder – uniquely American which reflects the rich cultural influences of the Spanish, French, African among others and their use of the abundance of fresh and local ingredients. Two styles emerged from this fusion – Cajun and Creole, both can be spicy or non-spicy and every Louisiana family has its own version of their family recipe. All finger-licking good!
What’s the difference between Cajun and Creole? Tomatoes! Cajun excludes them and Creole includes them. This is my non-spicy Creole Jambalaya (often called Red Jambalaya). It’s a rich and flavorful one pot rice dish filled with chicken, sausage and shrimp that comes together in a flavorful sauce! A bit similar to Spanish Paella, but not! While some of the ingredients may be the same, the cooking technique and ingredients combination make this dish unique and it stands on its own.
I start my Jambalaya on the stove top and finish it in the oven. Fool-proof perfectly cooked rice each and every time!
Cut 2 chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes, sprinkle with Creole seasoning mix and set aside. Cut an Andouille sausage or kielbasa pork sausage in 1/4 inch diagonal slices and set aside. Note: Andouille sausage is a French style of seasoning and making pork sausage. It’s uniquely associated with Louisiana cooking. Peel and devein your shrimp – don’t discard the shells. Season the shrimp with Creole seasoning and set aside. Wrap and store the chicken, sausage and shrimp separately in the refrigerator until ready for use.
Note: I used store bought creole seasoning because it was easy. I love Emeril’s Essence. Use your preferred store bought brand or make your own. If you wish to make your own Creole Seasoning Mix, combine:
4 Tablespoons paprika (I prefer sweet, but you could use smoked to get a smokey flavor in your dish)
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons each of Onion Powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil
2 teaspoons each dried thyme, black pepper, white pepper
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
In a stock pot, simmer over medium heat the chicken stock with the shrimp shells for 30 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve, reserve the stock and discard the shrimp shells. You should have about 3 cups of stock. While this isn’t a necessary step, it’s definitely worth it. The shrimp shells infuse the stock with a deeper and richer flavor.
Note: If skipping this step, use 3 cups of chicken stock instead of the full container.
Add a little olive oil to a dutch oven casserole or oven safe wide pot and slightly sear the chicken over medium heat for a few minutes. Set aside. Repeat with the sausage and set aside in the same dish with the chicken. Stir often to ensure the meats are browned evenly.
Note: shrimp is added at the very end, so you don’t need to sear it now.
Add a little olive oil to the pan and cook the onion, green bell pepper and celery (referred to as the “holy trinity”) until the vegetables are soft and onion is translucent. Add the garlic, sprinkle the pan with a little Creole seasoning, stir and cook for another minute or so. Return the chicken and sausage to the pan, stir to combine and allow the flavors to marry for a few minutes.
Note: Adding a little Creole seasoning as you go builds layers of flavors and ensures that every ingredient has flavor.
What’s the difference between Holy Trinity vs. Mirepoix?
Holy Trinity is the term used for equal parts onions, green bell peppers and celery. This combination is greatly used in Louisiana cooking. While a Mirepoix is the French term used for two parts onions to one part carrots and celery each. This is most commonly used in traditional cooking for soups and casserole dishes. Chefs will often use this terminology while cooking.
Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, file powder (if available) and sprinkle some Creole seasoning across the pan (zig-zag from one end of the pan to the other). Stir and cook the liquid out of the tomatoes for about 5 minutes to concentrate the flavors. Add the long grain rice and coated the rice with the sauce. Stir and cook for a few minutes to allow the rice to infuse with all the flavors!
Add the chicken stock, green onions, parsley salt salt and stir to combine. It’s very important to taste the liquid and adjust your seasonings at this time.
Note: The key to any rice dish is to get the salt and seasonings on point so the rice absorbs those flavors. If the liquid isn’t right at this point, you will only sprinkle salt on top after it’s cooked and it will completely change the dish or ruin it.
If your family likes spicy, now’s the time to add hot sauce, cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes – whatever you prefer. Remember once added, you can’t take it out so add in small amounts until it is to your preference. Otherwise, place the hot sauce and red pepper flakes on the table.
Once the liquid is seasoned to your liking, stir to combine ensuring the rice is not sticking to the bottom. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes – no peeking! While the dish is cooking, preheat your oven to 350°F and place the rack in the center of the oven. After the 15 minutes are up, uncover and add the shrimp, stir to combine, cover and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with extra scallions and parsley.
Note: While it may sound unusual to finish a rice dish in the oven, I guarantee you it will come out perfect! Mom has been doing this technique for years and she’s famous for her rice dishes. Finishing in the oven allows the rice to cook evenly because the heat source is surrounding the pot. If you only cook it on the stove top, you run the risk of the rice not cooking evenly and/or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Adapted from Allrecipes.com.
A classic Creole Jambalaya filled with chicken, sausage, shrimp and rice in a rich and flavorful tomato based sauce. This one-pot casserole is a classic Louisiana dish and perfect for any meal!
- 2 skinless chicken breasts, cut 1-inch dice
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (reserve shells)
- 1 8 oz. Andouille sausage, cut ¼ inch diagonal slices substitute pork kielbasa sausage
- 1 32 oz. container of chicken stock
- olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- Creole seasoning (store bought or homemade)
- 3 scallions, sliced diagonally, plus extra for garnish
- 3 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 1 14-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes in liquid
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon file powder hard to source, optional
- 1 ½ cup uncooked long grain rice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
- Optional: red pepper flakes or hot sauce to taste
Homemade Creole Mix
- 4 Tablespoons paprika
- 3 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons each of onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano and dried basil
- 1 Tablespoon each of dried thyme, black pepper and white pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sprinkle the diced shrimp and chicken with creole seasoning. Wrap each individually, including the sausage, in plastic wrap and refrigerate until use.
In a stock pot over medium to high heat, simmer the chicken stock and shrimp shells for 30 minutes. Strain the stock using a fine mesh sieve and discard the shells. You should have about 3 cups of stock.
Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven casserole with olive oil and sear the chicken over medium to high heat. Set aside. Repeat this step and sear the sausage. Set aside with the chicken.
Add a little olive oil to the casserole and sauté the onion, green bell pepper and celery until the vegetables are soft and onion is translucent. Add the garlic, sprinkle a little Creole seasoning over the vegetables. Stir and cook for another minute or two.
Return the chicken and sausage to the casserole, stir to combine and allow the flavors to marry for a few minutes.
Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, file powder (if available) and sprinkle Creole seasoning across the pan (zig-zag from one end of the pan to the other). Stir and cook the liquid out of the tomatoes for about 5 minutes to concentrate the flavors.
Add the long grain rice and stir to coated the rice with the tomato sauce for a few minutes.
Add the chicken stock, scallions, parsley and salt and stir to combine. It's very important to taste the liquid and adjust your seasonings, including adding hot sauce or red pepper flakes, if you prefer a spicy version.
Note: The key to any rice dish is to get the salt and seasonings on point before the rice absorbs the liquid.
Once the liquid is seasoned to your liking, stir well to combine all the ingredients, ensuring the rice is not sticking to the bottom. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
While the dish is cooking, preheat your oven to 350°F and place the rack in the center of the oven. When the 15 minutes have passed, uncover the casserole and add the shrimp. Stir to combine, cover and bake in the oven for an additional 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and garnish with extra scallions and parsley.