Creole Jambalaya is a hearty dish of rice, chicken, spicy sausage and shrimp. It’s flavoured with tomatoes and lots of Cajun spices. Best of all it’s so simple to make and is ready in only 45 minutes.
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Easy Creole Jambalaya
I’ve never been to New Orleans in Louisiana, where Jambalaya is said to have originated, so I can’t lay claim to having eaten the original version. However, years ago, when I lived in South Africa, I worked for a subsidiary of a large American company. We often got American visitors who normally stayed in nearby hotels for the duration of their visit. I was chatting to one of the lady visitors one day, and she happened to mention how tired she was of hotel food, and how she missed her own home cooking. Of course, there way only one thing to do. I invited her round to my home, where she promptly took over the kitchen!
It appeared that Jambalaya was to be on the menu and I was dispatched to the shops to pick up all the ingredients. Chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage, rice and various spices and vegetables. Unfortunately, andouille sausage was not available in the shops over there, so we had to settle for chorizo, which is a similar spicy sausage, liberally flavoured with paprika. It made a very good substitute.
History of Jambalaya
While we were cooking (well, actually I was only watching), I was given a brief history lesson. Jambalaya originated in the French quarter of New Orleans, where the Spanish settlers attempted to make paella. As there was no saffron available, the Spanish substituted tomatoes. Later, a little French influence crept in with the addition of the andouille sausage.
Apparently there are two versions of Jambalaya. The version we were making, which contains canned tomatoes, is known as Creole Jambalaya, or red Jambalaya. The other version doesn’t contain tomatoes and is known as Cajun or brown Jambalaya. It seems the further away you get from New Orleans, the less likely you will be to find tomatoes in your Jambalaya.
We dined like kings that night. The rice was perfectly cooked and had soaked up all the flavours of the tomatoes and spices; the chicken was nicely browned in the oil from the sausage; the prawns were plump and juicy; and the balance of spices was just right. Spicy, but not overpoweringly so. All we needed by way of accompaniment was a fresh green salad and a slice of garlic bread.
Luckily I wrote the recipe down while I was watching. I’ve made it many times since, and I’m sharing it today so you can try it for yourself. I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
How to make Creole Jambalaya
This recipe is sufficient for 4 people. You can get the complete list of ingredients and steps to make Jambalaya from the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
Remove the skin and visible fat from the chicken and cut into bite sized pieces. For the chicken you can use either boneless chicken thighs, or chicken breasts. Cut the sausages into thin rings or smallish chunks. Defrost the shrimp.
Jambalaya calls for a trinity of vegetables made up of 2 parts onion, 1 part celery and 1 part bell pepper. You can use any colour bell pepper you prefer. I like to use red.
Peel the onion, wash the celery stalks and wash the bell pepper and remove the seeds and inner membranes. Chop all the vegetables into approximately 1cm dice. Also peel and mince 2 cloves of garlic.
If you have fresh chicken stock you can skip this step, otherwise dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes in 2 cups of boiling water.
Steps to make Jambalaya
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the chicken and sausage over a medium heat until the sausage starts to release its oil and the chicken has changed colour from pink to white (image 1 above). There is no need to cook the chicken all the way through as it will continue to cook in the sauce. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Now add the vegetables and garlic to the pan and fry gently until they start to soften (image 2 above). There should be be sufficient oil left over from the sausage, if not you can just add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan before frying the vegetables.
Once the vegetables have softened, add 1 can of chopped tomatoes, and the spices. You will need paprika, oregano, thyme and cayenne pepper. Stir this all through (image 3 above), then add 1 cup of uncooked rice and the prepared stock (image 4 above).
Normally when cooking rice you would use 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water, which is what we have here. There is an additional amount of liquid in the tomatoes so the rice should cook perfectly, leaving just enough liquid so that the jambalaya is not too dry.
Cover the pan with a lid and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the meat and finish the cooking process
After 10 minutes, remove the lid and stir the sauce, then add the chicken and sausage (image 1 above). Replace the lid and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes remove the lid and check the rice. It should have absorbed most of the liquid. If you think the jambalaya looks a little dry, you can add a little more stock. Don’t overdo it though, the jambalaya should not be runny.
Now add the raw prawns (image 2 above), stir and cover with the lid again and leave to simmer for 5 more minutes until the prawns have turned pink and are cooked through (image 3 above). If you feel the prawns haven’t cooked sufficiently, you can leave them to simmer for a few minutes longer.
Remove from the heat and serve immediately with a fresh green salad and slices of crispy garlic bread.
Your questions answered
You can use any long or short grained rice. I used basmati for this recipe. Brown rice can be used, but it will take much longer to cook so you may need to adjust both the cooking time and the amount of stock you add. Don’t use risotto or pudding rice as this type of rice contains too much starch and will make the dish stodgy.
Yes, you can freeze any leftovers. Just pack them in a rigid plastic container with a tight fitting lid and you can store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
To use, allow to defrost in the refrigerator and then transfer to a large frying pan, cover with a lid and heat gently until piping hot. Don’t turn up the heat too much or you run the risk of the rice burning on the bottom of the pan.
Alternatively you could just reheat in the microwave.
Don’t forget to check out my handy Cookery Conversion Calculator if you want to convert any of your recipe measurements from grams to cups, ounces, tablespoons or millilitres and vice versa. You can also use the calculator for converting oven temperatures between Fahrenheit, Celsius and Gas marks.
If you live at a high altitude you may find you need to adjust your baking recipes to compensate for this. You can read all about it in this post on baking at high altitudes.
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Recipe – Creole Jambalaya with chicken, chorizo and shrimp
Creole Jambalaya with chicken, chorizo and shrimp
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- Sharp Knife
- Chopping Board
- 8 oz boneless chicken thighs (225g)
- 6 oz frozen shelled shrimp (100g)
- 4 oz andouille or chorizo sausage (100g)
- 1 large onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 – 2 small jalapeno peppers
- 14 oz can tomatoes (400g)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Remove the skin and visible fat from the chicken and cut into bite sized pieces. Cut the sausages into thin rings or smallish chunks. Defrost the shrimp.
- Peel the onion, wash the celery stalks and wash the bell pepper and remove the seeds and inner membranes. Chop all the vegetables into approximately 1cm dice. Peel and mince 2 cloves of garlic and chop 2 jalapeno peppers finely.
- If you have fresh chicken stock you can skip this step, otherwise dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes in 2 cups of boiling water.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the chicken and sausage over a medium heat until the sausage starts to release its oil and the chicken has changed colour from pink to white. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the vegetables and garlic to the pan and fry gently until they start to soften. If you need additional oil you can just add another tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add the can of chopped tomatoes, and the spices. Stir this all through then add 1 cup of uncooked rice and the prepared stock.
- Cover the pan with a lid and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove the lid and stir the sauce, then add the chicken and sausage. Replace the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes. If you feel the prawns haven't cooked sufficiently, you can leave them to simmer for a few minutes longer.
- Now add the raw prawns, stir, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes until the prawns have turned pink and are cooked through.
- Remove from the heat and serve immediately with a fresh green salad and slices of crispy garlic bread.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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