The recipe comes from a friend of ours, from a genuine Southerner. Someone who luvs all things rice and Creole cooking. Mike makes his family version of Jambalaya on a fairly regular basis. If he has andouille sausage, he uses that, but usually in combination with Italian sausage, plus the chicken and rice, of course.
Mike is retired now, and in the last few years he’s become a creative craftsman of all things wood – has his own woodworking website with photos and tutorials about how he constructs some of his projects.
Recently he decided to write up his jambalaya recipe for others to try and he tacked it on to his woodworking webpages. His wife, Norma, is the one for whom I’m baking chocolate chip cookies lately. That’s an ongoing quest. We still haven’t found the perfect recipe. Mike also has a gumbo recipe on his website, in case you’re interested. Here’s Mike’s photo of his jambalaya:
The making of jambalaya is not hard. Just takes a bit of time, some chopping and mincing, some stovetop cooking and a 30-minute bake in the oven. Oh, and you do have to remove all the chicken from the bones – that does take a bit of time too. But the bones are a necessity to make this – they give a lot of oomph to the flavor in the broth. There are probably about 2 hours or more of work involved before you can get this into the oven.
If you’d like a bit of a longer read about the recipe, head over to Mike’s website to see photos of all stages of this dish. Just remember that Jambalaya is “all about the rice.” Not the chicken or sausage. Those things are there just to provide more flavor to the rice. If you prefer a higher ratio of rice to protein, you’re welcome to increase it (or decrease the amount of rice, as I did). Mike cautions, though, that you need to measure the amount of liquid as you add it because it needs to balance with the amount needed to cook the rice.
Creole cooking is not about heat and spice (that kind is Cajun). So this dish is fairly low on the hot and spicy scale. That’s why the rice is so important, you see. Mike says you can add some hot sauce to it if you want, but don’t overdo it or you’ll distract the taste buds from the focus of the dish.
Cook’s Notes: When my friend Cherrie and I prepared this the other night, we made a few alterations, and we decided we’d make a couple more if/when we make it again. The leftovers are almost better than the first time ’round because the flavors have melded. And I’d caution – as Mike does – that you don’t want to overcook the rice - it becomes mushy. That you don’t want, so be careful to serve when it’s just cooked. Here are the changes:
1. We used just 2 cups of rice, not 2 1/2.
2. We used more chicken stock/water so we had to add more water to cover the chicken.
3. We added more meat altogether (chicken, Italian sausage AND andouille) as we wanted more meat in ratio to rice (not as authentic, however).
4. We ended up using more fluid than Mike’s recipe called for (about 1/2 cup).
5. Next time we would double the thyme and saffron called for.
6. All the guests at the table added some hot sauce, so we needed more, obviously.
7. If you prefer firmer rice, use Uncle Ben’s converted rice – it doesn’t clump, but stays as separate kernels when cooked.
printer-friendly PDF (where all the changes mentioned above, are included in the recipe)
Recipe: Mike Henderson, a friend
1 whole onion — chopped
3 stalks celery — chopped
1 pound chicken — thighs, breasts or legs, with bones (or more)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Andouille sausage — or Italian sausage (hot or mild) (or both)
1 whole green bell pepper — chopped
1 whole onion — diced
32 ounces diced tomatoes — including juice
16 ounces beef broth
Water (may be needed for rice)
2 tablespoons dried thyme — crumbled
1/2 teaspoon saffron, crushed
Hot sauce (Tabasco or other), to taste
2 cups long-grain rice
1 pound green peas — optional
1. In a large pot place the chicken pieces, add the onion and celery, then cover with about 2 cups of cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes. If you’re using frozen chicken, add another 10 minutes to the cooking time.
2. Partially freeze the Italian sausage to make it easier to slice. Cut all the sausage into 1/8 inch slices, but no thicker than 1/4 inch.
3. Dice up the second onion and green pepper and set aside.
4. Once the chicken is cooked, strain the stock and set it aside for later use. Some fat will rise to the top – skim it off if you prefer to. You should have about 1 cup of stock. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove all the meat and discard any fat, skin and bones. Break the meat into small bite-sized pieces.
5. In a large skillet or pan, heat the olive oil and add the sausage. Cook until they’re golden brown. Push all the sausage to one side of the pan and then add the onion and green pepper. Stir just the vegetable side (as best you can), trying to keep the two sections separate. Once the vegetables are cooked to your liking, mix in the sausage.
6. Add the canned tomatoes and the juice.
7. Preheat oven to 350.
8. To the pot add the chicken stock and the chicken pieces, then the beef broth. Bring it up to a low simmer. Keep track of exactly how much liquid you’ve added, as you need to have 1 1/2 cups of liquid (broth/water) for each cup of rice you add. How much rice is up to you. (2 cups rice requires 3 cups of liquid.)
9. Add the dried thyme and the saffron threads. Taste the broth in the pan to determine if you need to add salt or pepper. If you like hot pepper sauce, it can be added at this time. Traditionally jambalaya is not a spicy dish, so don’t overdo it.
10. Now add the rice. Heat the pan until the liquid is just at a simmer, then cover the pan and put it in the oven. You can add peas if you’d like – they can be added now, or during the last 15 minutes of baking time.
11. Bake the jambalaya for about 30 minutes. Check on it once – remove lid and taste the rice to see if it’s done. If the pan has too much liquid in it, return to the oven, but leave off the lid. If the rice is not quite done, but the liquid is all gone, add some hot water to the pan and continue baking. Normally, the rice falls to the bottom.
Per Serving: 573 Calories; 22g Fat (35.1% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 61mg Cholesterol; 377mg Sodium.