This recipe is from the Dixie Caviar archives. I threw a dinner party this past weekend for some family and friends and needed a dish that could be made in advance as well as feed a crowd. I set out pickled Gulf Coast shrimp as an appetizer, paired the jambalaya with a beautiful romaine salad, and served chocolate chess pie for dessert. Perfection!
We have a new roommate at the Oxford suites, and with him came lots of new things. Too many new things, actually. His furniture was spilling into the garage, the yard and then some. What to do, we ask? But a yard sale of course. The most fun yard sale in the history of yard sales! An all-day beer-pounding, hot dog-slamming, people-watching kind of yard sale. In honor of the occasion, we created the loveliest of posters to advertise the affair (ha!). My boyfriend Walt even strapped on some roller blades and a whoopie cushion costume to help lure in unsuspecting customers. No joke.
As luck would have it, all of our friends wanted to come "help out", a.k.a. drink Pina Coladas and scream at passerby's. The day brought lots of interesting characters -- the kind you can only find in famed Venice Beach. One such example was a she-male Einsteen look-alike on a hot pink BMW motorcycle, and another was a strange man who inquired if we had a straw and some salt for sale (??!!). And you know it's a party when two fire engines pull over, buy all of the PlayStation games and let us crawl all over their trucks. I've got the photos to prove it!
To feed the masses after a day of binge-drinking and hard-bargaining, I decided to whip up a batch of authentic Creole-style Jambalaya. Okay, I didn't really whip it up. More like spent a few hours in the kitchen. But the result was well worth it. Extraordinary, actually. There are thousands of versions of this traditional Louisiana recipe to choose from, but I prefer this because it has ham, chicken, AND andouille sausage. I also love the tomatoes, which is what makes it "Creole-style" (Cajun-style does not include them). This recipe is perfect for adapting to your own taste, or whatever you have in the pantry for that matter, and don't be afraid of the red pepper flakes. Just be sure to hide some away if you want any leftovers; this stuff is gone in the blink of an eye!
P.S. The yard sale was a grand success, so much so that we are thinking about doing it again next week. Feel free to stop on by ... I'm sure we'll have something else on the stove abrewin'!
Source: adapted from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook
Yields 6 - 8 servings
My first word of advice is to taste the andouille sausage before you do any seasoning. Spiciness varies from brand to brand, so you want to know what you are working with. Don't say I didn't warn ya.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
8 ounces (1 cup) cooked ham, cut into cubes
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium-sized green bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks (about 1/2 cup) celery, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14-1/2 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 - 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
3 cups hot, cooked white rice
In a large dutch oven, heat 2 - 3 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with cayenne and black pepper (if desired) and cook until lightly browned, about 6 - 8 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside. Add the sausage and ham to the pot and cook until lightly browned and heated through, about 4 - 5 minutes. Remove and set aside with the chicken.
Add onion, bell pepper, and celery to the pot and saute until tender, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute longer. Stir in chicken, sausage, ham, tomatoes, chicken stock, cajun seasoning, and thyme. Season with red pepper flakes and salt, to taste. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for a minimum of thirty minutes to allow flavors to marry, or longer if desired.
Traditionally the rice is mixed in with the meat mixture, but we like to serve it over the rice. Do whatever suits your fancy.