Cozy Cajun Cooking for Cold Winter Evenings! Jambalaya!

I get asked for recipes for some of the meals I serve here at Windy Thistle. Sometimes the recipe is a very old one that I've been making for years. So it is with this one - it's got it's roots in Southern Mississippi but the recipe has been fine tuned over the years. I get asked for it so often, that I thought I would share it with all of you. Skip down to the bottom if you just want to get to the recipe.

Get your ingredients together before you get started.

I mix all the dry spices in a small bowl and the same with all the liquid spices in a different bowl – just makes it easier to add as the recipe continues. I suggest you get all the ingredients ready before you start cooking, although I will start the meat while I’m cutting up the rest. While there are a lot of ingredients, it goes together in time. From prep to finish, this takes about an hour.

Get everything cut up, mixed and ready to add to the pot.

Get the olive oil and butter simmering away in a large pot that has a lid. When you see the oil shimmer, it's time to add the meat. If you are adding all three meats, remember to reserve the shrimp until the final five minutes of cooking or it will be tough and rubbery. This one has only sausage. Sauté it over medium heat until you start to get some color on the meat - remove from the pan, but leave the oils behind.

Brown evenly, stirring frequently.

After you remove the meat, you will see that the bottom of the pot has browned bits left behind. Oh, this is called 'fond' and we are very fond of it, you bet! The flavor is rich and we want every bit of this in our finished product. It's easy to release the fond by adding veggies.

See all that brown fond goodness on the bottom?

To get all that rich goodness up for this dish, we add the Trinity of Cajun/Creole cooking - Onion, Green Pepper and Celery. When chopping them - try to keep them all about the same size. Toss them in the pot, add a good sprinkle of kosher salt. Those good flavor builders will release just enough of their juice for you to scrap up all that fond.

The Trinity of Cajun/Creole Cooking

You cook the trinity until all the veggies are softened, then add the dry spices and the garlic. Be careful now, if your heat is too high, you will burn your garlic. Keep a nose on it, when you can smell the garlic, quickly go on to the next step! Adding the dry spices at this point blooms them and infuses the dish with those aromatics that are released in the oil.

By mixing the dry spices, you make sure they are evenly distributed in the dish.

When your nose tells you that the garlic and spices are bloomed, add the meat and rice back in and stir until all the rice grains are coated in oil. You're on the final home stretch now. Add the tomato juice from the whole tomatoes into the pot and tear the tomatoes into bits with your hands. Watch those 'maters - they'll squirt if you go too fast with this step. Add the paste and all the rest of the ingredients and stir well.

Simmer away until nearly all the liquid is gone and the rice is cooked - taste it!

Bring it up to a simmer, cover and let it simmer away until the rice is cooked and the liquid is almost all absorbed. Stir every five minutes or so to scrap up any stuck bits on the bottom. It takes between 30 and 45 minutes of simmering, depending on how dry your rice is. Taste it for doneness, you want to make sure that rice is cooked and not crunchy! The dish should be thick but not dry. If it appears dry but the rice is not done - add a half cup of water and continue to cook.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt if you want to tone down the heat a shade - it's spicy. If you try it, let me know if you liked it in the comments!


Jambalaya w Sausage, Chicken & Shrimp

Serves 6


Smoked Sausage – slice into coins

Chicken Breasts – cut into 1” chunks

Shrimp - raw, shelled, deveined

Rice – 2 cups uncooked

Chicken Broth – 1 quart

Tomato Paste – small 6 oz can

Tomatoes – whole in the large can with the juice included

Onion – medium large – chopped

Green Pepper – medium large, chopped

Celery – two stalks, chopped finer but not minced

Garlic – between 3 to 5 cloves, minced – can’t have too much in my opinion

Pepper – 1 tsp freshly ground if you can get it

Salt – 1 tsp

Hot Pepper Flakes – ½ tsp (this is optional – it adds a lot of heat)

Paprika – 1 tsp

Turmeric – 1 tsp

Chili Powder – 1 ½ tsp

Louisiana Hot Sauce – 1 to 1 ½ tsp (give four good shakes directly from the bottle)

Worcestershire Sauce – 1 ½ tbsp

Olive Oil – 2 tbsps.

Butter – 2 tbsps.

1. Prepare all ingredients and have them ready to go.

2. Put olive oil in a large pot and add the meats and brown over medium heat – when browned, remove to small bowl. Stir frequently to brown evenly.

3. Add butter, onions, green pepper and celery into the left over oil – give them a shake of salt over the top to start them releasing their juices.

4. Scrap up the brown fond from the bottom of the pot as the veggies cook.

5. When the fond is all scraped up and the veggies are softened, add the garlic. Keep an eye on this or.. nose.. when you can just smell the garlic, add the rice and the dry spices.

6. Turn the rice to cover all of the grains with the oil/butter and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. This blooms the spices and marries them into the dish.

7. Add the meats back in

8. Add the juice from the whole tomatoes and crush and tear the tomatoes into pieces with your hands, one by one into the pot. Go slowly or the tomatoes will squirt juice at you.

9. Add the tomato paste and mix well – this blooms the paste.

10. Add the broth and wet spices and bring up to a boil.

11. Turn down to a simmer and cover and cook 25 minutes – stirring every 5 minutes or so to keep the rice from burning to the bottom. Scrap your pot frequently with a metal spoon to make sure. Test the rice for doneness, sometimes the rice is dryer than other times and will take longer to soften. Cook until almost all the liquid is gone.

12. When the rice is done, the dish is done!

13. If it is too spicy for your guests, add sour cream/Greek yogurt to taste at the table to bring down the heat a little. Taste first.