Once I got over the excitement of roasting a chicken, I quickly realized that roasted chicken is not the type of thing that I really enjoy eating (smart, eh?). So, I set to work turning the chicken into something that I would actually look forward to eating, like… Jambalaya!
I’ve lived in Louisiana for almost ten years now and jambalaya is definitely one of my favorite “local” foods. Surprisingly, I had never made a pot until now. I’ve been very busy so instead of doing a bunch of recipe research I just turned to my most trusted cook book, The Joy of Cooking. Working off of the backbone of that recipe, I made it fit my budget and on-hand ingredients. Now, I know this recipe is probably not like your Cajun Grandmother’s recipe but it is pretty darn good! I’ve been happily eating my jambalaya every day since :D
I made a couple changes, of course. First, I bought a bag of frozen, chopped onion, celery and bell pepper. Sometimes, depending on produce prices, the frozen pre-chopped mix is less expensive than buying one onion, one bell pepper and a bunch of celery. Plus, as mentioned, I was super busy this week and needed every short cut I could get. If you want to use fresh, just sub one onion, one bell pepper and 1/2 bunch of celery.
Second, I increased the rice/meat ratio. The recipe called for only one cup of rice and two pounds of meat and I felt that it could be stretched out a bit more. Even after increasing the rice to 2 cups (about 5 cups once cooked), the mix seemed almost 50/50 rice to meat. I bet you could up the rice to three cups (and 5 cups water, yielding 8 cups cooked) and make even more servings for an even lower price.
Anyway, I WILL be cooking this again.
- 1 lb cooked chicken ($2.99)
- 1 lb smoked sausage ($3.99)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 12 oz seasoning mix (diced onion, bell pepper, celery) ($1.25)
- 2 cups long grain rice ($0.60)
- 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.05)
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste ($0.19)
- 3.5 cups water ($0.00)
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes ($1.26)
- 2 whole bay leaves ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
- 1/2 bunch parsley ($0.35)
- to taste salt and pepper ($0.05)
- Slice the sausage and cook in a large pot over medium heat until thoroughly cooked (about 5 minutes). Don’t worry if the drippings begin to stick and coat the bottom of the pan, it will be deglazed later. Remove the cooked meat (leaving the fat/drippings in the pan) and set it aside for later.
- Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic to the pot with the meat drippings and cook until soft (about 3-5 minutes). The moisture from the vegetables should loosen anything stuck to the bottom of the pan from the meat (all of that flavorful good stuff).
- Once the vegetables have softened, add the dry rice, cayenne pepper and tomato paste. Stir it all together and cook for approximately 1 minute more. This will allow the tomato paste to caramelize and the rice to toast just slightly.
- Add 3.5 cups of water, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, fresh cracked pepper (about 20 cranks) and salt (about 1/2 tsp). Stir it together, then add the meat back into the pot. Bring it up to a simmer, add a lid and reduce the heat to low. Allow the pot to simmer on low until all of the moisture has been absorbed by the rice (about 30 minutes). Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.
Step By Step Photos
Slice and cook the sausage (and chicken if using raw) in a large pot until done (about 5 minutes). Remove the meat from the pot and set aside for later.
This frozen seasoning blend (onion, bell pepper, celery) was definitely a life saver with my recent time constraints… plus it was actually less than buying the fresh – I checked.
Cook the vegetables in the left over meat drippings until soft. The moisture from the vegetables will pull up all of the flavor stuck to the bottom of the pot (that’s why it’s brown-ish).
Add the rice (I used brown & white), tomato paste and cayenne pepper.
Stir them all around for about a minute to let it cook just slightly…
Add the water, can of diced tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper.
Add the cooked meat back into the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer then put the lid on, reduce the heat to low and let it cook until the rice has soaked up all of the liquid (about 30 minutes).
Fluff it up with a fork and stir in the chopped parsley!
p.s. This freezes well.