Jumpin’ Jambalaya! Mardi Gras Celebrations

     

    Meat and shrimp jambalaya.

    It is time for Mardi Gras celebrations and a Mighty Meat and Shrimp Jambalaya! The best thing about jambalaya is that you can easily tailor it to your own tastes. The combination of meat and shrimp in this helps to add a very distinct and tasty flavor to the rice. But if you do not like a meat and fish combo, it is very easy to remove the ingredients that you don’t like and replace them with what you do like. And just keep on cooking!

    That also holds true for the spices used in the dish. Most people liked a mildly spicy Jambalaya.  However, if you like it hotter – simply add more cayenne pepper.  If you prefer no heat at all you can entirely leave out the cayenne pepper and spicy sausage. Here is the best part about making a jambalaya it is cooked in one pot, very similar to paella. And once your jambalaya is ready, it is simple to serve a large group of people, which, ultimately will allow you more time to enjoy your Mardi Gras festivities.

    Mighty Meaty and Shrimp Jambalaya

    (Serves 6-8 hungry people)

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. chicken thighs, trimmed, cleaned, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    • 1 lb. Andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices.
    • 1 lb. spicy Spanish chorizo, cut into a medium diced
    • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • Creole seasoning, to taste (see recipe below)
    • 4 cloves chopped garlic
    • 1 green bell pepper, medium diced
    • 1 red bell pepper, medium diced
    • 1 large onion, medium diced
    • 3 celery stalks, medium dice
    • 4 scallions
    •  28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes or your favorite tomato sauce
    • 2 tomatoes, seeded and medium diced
    • 6 -7 cups chicken stock
    • 3 cups white rice
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
    • olive oil as needed
    • salt to taste

    Cajun Seasoning

    Ingredients:

    cajun spices
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
    • 1 tablespoon dried sweet basil
    • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
    • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
    • 1/2 tablespoon white pepper
    • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika

    How to Make the Cajun Spice Mix

    • Add all the measured ingredients to a bowl.
    • Thoroughly mix and set aside

    Tip: Do not add salt to this Cajun spice mix. This way you can control the amount of salt you use.  This recipe will make about 1/2 cups of the spice mix.

    Making the Jambalaya

    Procedure:

    • Wash and cut all the vegetables and place them aside.
    • Keep the garlic separate from the rest.
    • Wash the scallions. Cut off the root ends and discard. Slice on the bias.
    • Trim off the very dark green top portions and add to your chicken stock.

    Tip:  Keep the chicken stock at a slow simmer.  When it’s time to add it to the jambalaya increase the heat and bring it to a boil. This will ensure that the stock will not be cold which would slow down the cooking process.

    Cooking the meats and shrimp

    • Heat your large cooking pan for the jambalaya over medium-high heat.
    • Add enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pan.
    • Once the pan lightly begins to smoke, reduce to medium heat and add the well-seasoned chicken.

    Tip:  Do not overcrowd your pan.  Cook in batches if can’t comfortably brown off all the chicken at one time.  Overcrowding the pan will wind up steaming the meat, not searing it.  (Steaming will not allow you to build the delicious fond that I mentioned earlier.)  That’s where all the great flavor will be!

    • As the chicken begins to just brown remove it with a slotted spoon. Add it to a strainer placed inside a bowl to catch any juices.
    • Next, add the Andouille sausage (in batches if necessary) and add to the strainer as it begins to turn a golden brown color.
    • Then quickly to the same with the diced chorizo.
    • At this point, there should be a very nice fond accumulated at the bottom of your pan.

    Tip:  As you sear the meats add a little more olive oil as needed.  Also, do not get the pan too hot.  Keep it at medium heat and take your time.  This way the fond will continue to gain flavor but not burn.

    Searing off the shrimp.
    • Lastly, add the seasoned shrimp.
    • This is also your last building phase for the fond.  The shrimp will leave a very unique flavor behind that will add a deliciously distinct flavor to the rice.
    • Cook quickly so that the color on the outside but remains opaque on the inside.
    • Remove all of the shrimp from the strainer with the meats. All juices that accumulate in the bowl underneath will be used during the stock addition.

    Adding the Holy Trinity and lifting up the fond

    • Let the pan cool slightly and disregard any excess oil. Then add the garlic, cook until fragrant and slightly golden in color. This will happen fast!
    • When you finally add your Holy Trinity, the steam and moisture from the vegetables will help lift up all these crusted-on flavors.
    • With a wooden spoon make sure to scrape up the fond (caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan) as you sweat off the vegetables.
    • Now, cook until the vegetables have softened.
    • Add a ladle or two of stock and scrape up any more fond that is still stuck on the bottom.
    • Season with a little more Cajun spice mix and let cook an additional 5 minutes over medium-low heat.
    • With a wooden spoon, stir and scrape every so often to help lift the fond from the bottom of the pan.

    Add the Tomato Sauce

    tomato addition
    • Pour in the tomato sauce, sprinkle a little of the Cajun seasoning on it, add the Worcestershire sauce (optional) and stir it all completely into the vegetables.
    • Let the tomato mixture cook uncovered over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, or until the sauce has lost some of its moisture and thickened.
    • At this point, you can add the rice and the bay leaves
    • Mix the rice to coat well with the tomato sauce.
    • Add enough chicken stock to cover the rice by two-thirds.
    • Also, add any reserved juice from the meats and shrimp from the bowl under your colander.

    Tip:  The rice will take about 20 minutes to cook.  Keep adding more chicken stock as needed.  Just remember the end result should not have a lot of liquid. All the stock should be absorbed.

    The last stages of cooking.
    • After the rice has been cooking for 16 minutes (or almost totally cooked), add in the meats, shrimp, (and any additionally collected juices), half of the scallions, and all chopped tomatoes.
    • Carefully, but thoroughly combine all.
    • Taste for seasoning at this point.  Add, more salt, Cajun spice mix, or even more Cayenne pepper, and carefully mix until completely blended.
    • Heat for 5 minutes or until the rice is nice and tender, and the shrimp and meats heat through.

    Sprinkle the remaining scallions on top and enjoy your JAMBALAYA immediately!

    Jumpin’ Jambalaya! | Mardi Gras Celebrations

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