This review is a little late since we had jambalaya for dinner last Thursday, but the recipe was good, so better late than never, right?
Jambalaya is one of my favorite dishes and I am just not skilled at making it. It shouldn’t be hard, right? I mean, it’s just rice with some extra goodies. My aunt Anne makes a mean jambalaya. I dream about her jambalaya. I’ve tried the recipe that she uses (it’s in La Bouche Creole by Leon E. Soniat, Jr., if you are interested), but it never comes out. My rice is always undercooked and I end up with too much liquid. I decided to expand my horizons a bit and try a new recipe. I figured at least I wouldn’t be disappointed when it doesn’t taste like Aunt Anne’s jambalaya.
This jambalaya recipe uses brown rice (not traditional) and seemed to have a bit more of a sauce than I am accustomed to. In my world, jambalaya should be the same consistency as paella – it should look like rice with stuff in it, not like soup with stuff and rice in it. That said, it looked pretty delicious and I really liked that the author called it “jambalaya-ish” since it was not a recipe for traditional jambalaya.
I started by throwing my celery, garlic, onion, and one whole red bell pepper (since I did not have the paste the recipe suggested) into the food processor. I read later that these things were intended to go into the hot oil at separate times, but having cooked with this vegetable base (onion, celery, green pepper) a million times before, I knew they could all go in together. After that cooked down a bit, I added the flour and two tablespoons Tony Chachere instead of the seasoning mix in the recipe. If you like things a little less spicy, you might reduce your Cajun seasoning a bit. Or maybe try the recipe’s mixture? Can’t speak to that.
I was able to find fire roasted tomatoes, so added those in with the chicken stock. I added another 1 ¼ cups chicken stock (actually, two cans plus a little water) because I did not think one cup of rice was enough to feed my family, even with all the meat this contains. I used 1 ½ cups brown rice instead. Once everything came to a boil (veggies, broth, rice), I added my sausage (your basic Hickory Farms Turkey Sausage – I think Andouille is too fatty) and pre-cooked chicken (two breasts, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper then baked at 375° for 25 minutes) to the mix and set my timer for 55 minutes.
After 55 minutes, my jambalaya was not even close to cooked. It was the same problem that I have always had with Anne’s recipe – lots of broth, rice hard as a rock. I gave it another ten minutes. Then another ten more. Then I turned up the heat and let it cook some more.
All in, I have no idea how long this took to cook. By the time I got tired of waiting and added the shrimp, the rice was still not entirely done, but at least the liquid had mostly cooked out. I really don’t know what the problem is here. If anyone has an idea, I am all ears. Maybe my heat was too low? Maybe there’s an adjustment for altitude that I am missing? I don’t seem to have this problem with plain rice, but anytime there is something in the rice, it doesn’t cook. Suggestions?
Anyway, despite the lengthy cooking time, this jambalaya was excellent. We had a small amount leftover for lunches but I think four out of five of the adults eating dinner had seconds. I think if we had not had salad with the jambalaya, the kids would have finished it at dinner. I also made a separate pot of rice for the little kids because I was worried that the jambalaya itself might be too spicy. I served their meat and shrimp from the jambalaya over plain rice. They both had seconds. This is a great recipe. Simple and very tasty.
Oh, and for salad, I roasted some beets and tossed them with arugula, spinach, walnuts, and goat cheese. We made a quick dressing with shallot, orange marmalade, lemon juice, salt, and pepper (just throw it all in your blender). It looked kind of weird, but tasted great with the greens and beets.