Before I sat down to write this today, I pulled up a You Tube video of Hank Williams and his original version of “Jambalaya”. You know, the one that starts out: “Goodbye Joe, we gotta go oh, me, oh my-o…Son of a gun, we’ll have great fun on the Bayou…”
Yep, Lent just started so for Mardi Gras I just had to make up a big old batch of Jambalaya. Oh man, this stuff is rich and meaty and tasty with just a teeny little hint of heat to finish waking up your tastebuds.
And, I didn’t even have to go to the store to pick up any “specialty” Cajun ingredients. I rummaged around and in true Cheap Bastid style “made do” with what I have on hand. No Cajun worth his heritage would think of making this without real andouille sausage but 1) I didn’t have any and 2) outside of Louisiana andouille is pretty expensive. But I had some Hillshire smoked beef sausage. Hey! To quote Gunny Highway, “improvise, adapt, overcome”. And way back in the recesses of my freezer, I came across a half pound of shrimp. Those went into Jambalaya too along with a boneless, skinless chicken breast.
It’s actually pretty easy to make and takes less than an hour start to finish. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to make it and this is great “comfort food” anytime you want something to stick to your ribs and warm you through and through.
And, just to remind you that “my recipes are guidelines not prescriptions”, I didn’t have any canned tomatoes in the pantry so I used a couple of fresh romas. And I didn’t have chicken broth so I used beef. I don’t have andouille but I’ve got some kielbasa. And I don’t have any Old Bay seasoning so I made do with some stuff from the spice cupboard. Bottom line…”it’s all good”.
Mrs. CB and I did a lot of damage to that big pot of Jambalaya that should easily feed 4. It was that good. And Mardi Gras is the day to overindulge. That’s why it’s called “Fat Tuesday”, isn’t it?
Summary: Whether it’s to kick off Lent or take the edge off a cold day or to fill up with some tasty Cajun comfort food, you’ll love Cheap Bastid’s easy and fast Jambalaya.
- 3/4 lb chicken—(1 boneless/skinless breast or 2 bone-in/skin-on thighs)
- 3/4 lb sausage—kielbasa, andouille, Italian
- ¾ lb shrimp (optional)
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 bell pepper—red, yellow, orange—chopped
- 1 jalapeno—chopped
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups broth—chicken or beef
- 1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes (or 2 roma tomatoes)
- 1 ½ cups long-grained rice
- Crushed Red Pepper flakes
- (Old Bay Seasoning if you have it or want to use it)
- Cooking oil
- Get out either your slow cooker or a Dutch oven. Get out your cutting board and chef’s knife.
- Cut the celery, bell pepper, jalapeno and onion and put into a bowl.
- Chop tomatoes (if you’re using romas) and put in a bowl.
- Cut the sausage length-wise, then into thin half-discs. Put in bowl.
- Put a light coat of oil on the chicken breast or thighs and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put on a plate.
- Put cooker pan or Dutch oven on stove burner and turn to medium high. Add 2 tablespoons oil.
- Put chicken in the pan and brown each side for about 3 minutes (about ½ done—don’t worry it’ll finish cooking in the pot). Remove from heat and put back on plate covered with a paper towel.
- (Or, you can stoke up your grill and cook the chicken there—which is what I did).
- Add chopped vegetables to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and cumin. Add garlic. Let vegetables cook a few minutes, stirring often until they just start to soften.
- Add the sausage to the pan and stir everything. Let the sausage cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
- Stir in the broth and tomatoes and let it come to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer if using a Dutch oven or move pan over to cooker base if using a slow cooker. Cover.
- Turn back to your chicken. Put it on the cutting board and cut into about ¾ inch pieces. (It should be about ½ done).
- Add chicken and rice. Reduce heat to a simmer. Taste test again and adjust seasoning if needed—add crushed red pepper flakes if using.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then add the shrimp (if you’re using shrimp). Cover again. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Cover; turn heat to low until rice is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed about 15 minutes. (If it gets too thick—clumpy—add a bit more broth or water).
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 40 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Serve in bowls. Some fresh French bread or even corn bread will be great with this for some soppin’!
So yeah, this is a really great meal for the beginning of Lent. And, it’s fantastic anytime you want stick-to-your-ribs comfort food that’s just a little bit different. It’s great if you’ve got company coming over and want something simple and hearty and it’s great if you’re looking for something that’s just a little bit different from chili but will leave the same grin on your face.
The Cheap Bastid Test: The chicken breast cost about $1.25 and the sausage was $1.99. Plus, the shrimp was half of a bag that I paid $8 for a while back so call it $4 worth of shrimp. As for the rest of the ingredients—broth, celery, jalapeno, onion, bell pepper and tomatoes—let’s call it another $2. So the total is $9.25. Not the world’s cheapest but it will feed 4 adults big hearty bowls of Jambalaya goodness.
“…Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and fillet gumbo. Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio. Pick guitar fill fruit jar and be gay-o. Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou…”