I have a perfectly good jambalaya recipe I’ve made for years. My friend Wanda, who lived in New Orleans all her life, gave me the recipe along with a handful of beads she sent me one year. I loved the beads almost as much as the jambalaya. I didn’t actually have to do anything naughty to get those beads! Not that I would. In public.
But this year I tried a new recipe. It was made on The Chew by John Besh (one of my chef idols). It has most of the same ingredients from my traditional recipe for jambalaya I posted last year, but adds chicken, ground pork and bacon to the andouille sausage and shrimp in my recipe. Yes, that is 4 meats and then add shrimp. I just couldn’t resist.
I didn’t have a dutch oven large enough to make the entire dish, so I used a large nonstick skillet for all of the browning and caramelizing of the meats, then put it into a large pot and let it finish simmering with the liquids. That worked well.
I started with the diced bacon, rendering it awhile as directed. When it had fried for awhile I added the ground pork, letting it brown a bit before breaking it up into smaller chunks.
At that point I added the andouille sausage which I’d cut into slices. I let that sauté for about 5 minutes.
I cut the chicken thigh meat into chunks, seasoned it with salt and pepper and stirred that into the skillet to brown.
The onion was diced and I added that to the skillet, stirring occasionally as it was beginning to stick to the bottom a little. I let the onions caramelize somewhat, cooking it for 15 more minutes.
I added the diced peppers and celery and let them sauté for 5 more minute.
I measured the rice and seasonings into the skillet and stirred them well. I let them sauté another 5 minutes as directed.
At this point I had a very full skillet and was ready to transfer my ingredients to a large pot. I knew from experience that 2 cups of rice would need more liquid than the recipe called for. I’d burned a couple of pots of jambalaya in the past that were too dry. I added 4 cups of chicken broth and a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and stirred well
Bringing the pot to a boil is important, don’t reduce the heat until it is bubbling away rapidly. Once it is boiling, I turn the heat to the notch above the lowest mark, put the lid on the pot and time it for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes I stir it and remove a large serving for my P.S., who doesn’t eat shrimp. Then I add the shrimp, stir again, and replace the cover. I turn the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes for the shrimp to finish cooking and the rice to finish absorbing the liquid.
After 10 minutes the jambalaya was done and it smelled so good! I served it in bowls and totally forgot to put the diced green onions on top, I was in such a rush to eat it! But oh my, this was an excellent recipe. I hadn’t doubted it would be; John Besh is from Louisiana and is an excellent chef. Of course it would be good!
We inhaled it and enjoyed every bite. Every piece of bacon, sausage, andouille, chicken, shrimp, and rice. It was a lot of flavors, all combined in a spicy stew that was beyond good. It made me want to dance and wear beads and.. well.. celebrate in general!
Mardi Gras Jambalaya
1/2 pound bacon; diced
1 1/2 pounds Andouille sausage; sliced
1 pound fresh ground pork sausage
4 skinless boneless chicken thighs; roughly cut into 1-inch cubes
freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion; diced
2 bell peppers; seeded and diced
3 stalks celery; diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups long grain white rice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons Pimenton de la Vera or smoked paprika (I use smoked paprika)
1 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste; I used 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon celery salt
28 ounces canned crushed or diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds Louisiana White Shrimp (or other wild American shrimp; peeled and deveined)
1 bunch green onions; chopped
In a large nonstick skillet fry the bacon over medium heat until it is beginning to brown. Add the ground pork and fry until it begins to brown, then break into small pieces. Add the andouille sausage and fry about 5 more minutes.
While the pork is rendering, season the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper. Add the chicken to the pot, stirring, and cook until the chicken becomes golden brown, about 5 minutes.
After the chicken has browned, add the onions to the pot and allow them to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the bell peppers, celery, and garlic, celery and cook for about 5 minutes. Continue stirring from time to time so that everything in the pot cooks evenly.
Next add the rice, thyme, bay leaves, pimentón, cayenne, salt, black pepper, and the celery salt to the pot and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes.
Transfer the ingredients to a large pot, increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes and chicken stock to the pot. Bring the pot to a full boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
While the rice is cooking in the covered pot, season the shrimp with salt and pepper and save them, along with the green onions, to be added at the last minute.
After the rice has simmered for 15 minutes remove the lid from the pot and fold in the shrimp and green onions. Turn off the heat and let everything continue to cook in the hot covered pot for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the jambalaya, and serve!
Adapted from The Chew