Something you may not know about me: New Orleans is my favorite city.
Although I’ve never been lucky enough to live there, I try to get there as often as I can, especially during the city’s big Jazz and Heritage Festival in the spring. I just love the music, the European flavor of the French Quarter, the quirky neighborhoods, and especially the food.
My love for the Crescent City has crept onto numerous menus at restaurants where I have worked, sometimes for no reason other than I love the cuisine. Whenever I get lonesome for that town, I stop by one of my favorite Chicago restaurants, Heaven on Seven, a Creole and Cajun inspired joint that has some of the best food I’ve had anywhere outside Louisiana.
Digging around my refrigerator the other day, I noticed I had some leftover chicken, sausage and shrimp. Jambalaya, I immediately thought. With the Bears playing the Saints this weekend, what could be better than this all-time New Orleans favorite.
This recipe is simple, inexpensive and delicious. It’s a great way to use up odds and ends from your fridge or freezer. Chicken, Andouille sausage and shrimp are the traditional ingredients, but really you can make it with anything you have, including straight vegetarian.
You can cook it in your slow cooker, but I couldn’t wait that long so I cooked it up on the stove top. And I just had to serve it with some jalapeno cornbread.
1 or 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 or 2 Italian sausage links (or Andouille, if you can find it), cut into 1-2 inch peices
1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup white onion, diced
1 green pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS all-purpose flour
2 TBS tomato paste
15 oz can of diced tomatoes
3/4 cup white rice (not instant, puh-lease!)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup water
1 TBS Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning (usually just referred to as “Tony’s”) (You can substitute with Old Bay or any kind of Cajun or Creole seasoning)
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375. Heat 1 TBS EVOO in cast iron skillet. When oil starts to smoke, add chicken and sausage, seasoning with S&P. Let brown, about 2 minutes, then turn and season and brown the other side a minute, then throw the whole pan in the oven to finish cooking, about 7 minutes. Remove and set aside for later.
2. In large pot, heat 1 TBS EVOO. When oil starts to smoke, add onion, green pepper, celery and bay leaf. Sweat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for about another 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn. Add the chicken stock, water, Tony’s, diced chicken and sausage and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook until rice is done, about 25 minutes.
3. Combine the shrimp with 1 TBS of EVOO and sprinkle with 1 tsp Tony’s. Refrigerate to let flavors marinate. Just before service, in hot saute pan, drizzle a little EVOO. When oil starts to smoke, add shrimp. Saute until done, about 3-4 minutes, flipping once or twice.
To plate, use a kitchen spoon to build a big pile of jambalaya in the center of a pasta bowl. Arrange the shrimp around the pile. Garnish with parsley sprig or chopped parsley.
1 cup All Purpose Flour
2 TBS sugar
TBS baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup vegetable oil
3-4 jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed, diced
Preheat oven to 425F. Grease your cast iron skillet with pan spray and throw it in the oven.
1. While the oven is warming, combine milk, eggs and oil in a bowl. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cornmeal. Slowly stir liquid mixture into powder mixture just until batter is wet. Fold in jalapenos, then use potholders to remove skillet from oven and pour batter into skillet.
2. Cook for about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
This recipe can also be made in a 9”x9” baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Do you love New Orleans cooking as much as I do? What are your favorite dishes? Let us know in the comments section below.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!