Sunday, January 23, 2011


Every time I even hear that word - Jambalaya - I have this mental image. Surprisingly, it's not about New Orleans, seafood, stew, or anything like that. It's about Seinfeld... Yes, the infamous Soup Nazi episode - and I picture Newman dancing down the road after he looks in his bag and says "Jambalaya!".

I'm sure my recipe isn't that good - just as sure I am that there are about a zillion recipes for Jambalaya out there. This is just my humble entry into the foray. I *think* this classifies as a stew. I'm not sure.

Now, as most of you know, I'm a spice wimp. In addition, if you have been following my blog, you will know that I am a total spice wimp. I love complex flavors, as long as it's not so high on the Scolville scale that it burns my tongue off. Actually, a ton of flavors gives me something to think about, and I remember the dish longer. It's like a puzzle that I have to figure out before I'm happy.

You will also notice this has a *ton* of ingredients. Don't be intimidated by that, the recipe actually comes together very easily. I actually surprised myself to notice this recipe doesn't contain soy or ginger. Yes, I know, unusual for me.

I was first introduced to Jambalaya and Gumbo by my ex. He has very specific ideas on what Gumbo and Jambalaya was. He also had his secret recipe. No, this isn't close at all to his Gumbo recipe. For one, it doesn't have any okra. Now I'm not an okra hater, I just wasn't feeling it when I was thinking about this recipe.

I was fortunate enough to travel to New Orleans for a wedding in my lifetime - way before Katrina. I got to taste a ton of dishes, and enjoyed every one. Now, it's my turn to spin it to my tastes. One thing you will never me cook with is Tilapia, though. I know people love it, I think it tastes like dirt. The first time I had it, I honestly thought the chef had accidentally dropped my fish on the floor...a very dirty floor.

I have really blurred the line between Gumbo and Jambalaya on this one, but I think the results are worth it. If you can have some patience with my food geek hat, from what I know, the difference between Gumbo and Jambalaya is Gumbo has file, okra, and a roux. Jambalaya can have those, but is more of a tomato-seafood stew than anything. This has some roux in it, and can be loosely classified as a Gumbo, but it really is a stew.

One more quick note - I chose to serve my Jambalaya over rice rather than put rice in it. I really prefer rice to be separate for many reasons. I think leftovers keep better if the rice is separate, and I enjoy the rice being a bit neutral in the dish.

Serves 4-6

1/2 cup cubed ham
1 lb. cajun sausage, like Andouille, cut into bite size pieces
1 lb shrimp
1 24 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 green peppers, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 T. olive oil
1 cup cooked shredded chicken
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. flour
3 bay leaves
1 t. smoked paprika
1 t. old bay seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 shakes hot sauce, or to taste
Juice of 1 lemon

In a heavy bottomed stew pot, put 1 T. oil, the onions, peppers, and celery. Cook until onions are translucent, and set aside. Saute sausage briefly 1-2 minutes, and remove from pan. Add rest of oil and the flour, and cook until a caramel color.

Once your flour and oil is the right color, add all your remaining ingredients except the lemon juice and shrimp. I used home made chicken stock for my recipe, and used approximately 1 t. salt. However, if you use not homemade stock, you may want to add less. Add up to 1 t. pepper, or to taste.

Simmer 30 minutes. Adjust taste by adding more salt and pepper, or hot sauce. Add shrimp and lemon juice and continue to simmer until shrimp just turns pink. Taste and adjust seasoning again before serving.

Serve over white rice.


  1. Hey! This looks wonderful, even if it is wimpy in terms of spices;) Ooh, and I love okra, but this almost sounds better without it...
    Yum Yum!

  2. Nice post!!

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