Jambalaya is a classic Louisiana dish, influenced by early Spanish settlers attempting to make paella in the new world. The two primary kinds of Jambalaya are Creole and Cajun. Creole is New Orleans city food and Cajun food is concentrated in the rural southwest and south central portion of Louisiana. The main difference is that Creole Jambalaya consists of tomatoes and seafood. Cajun Jambalayas do not contains tomatoes (they were hard to come by) and consists of “swamp” creatures, such as rabbit, squirrel, raccoon and chicken (swamp chickens!).
Here in Altanta, Cajun/Creole restaurants go up and then drop off like flies. I’ve been to many of them and it’s never quite the same as back home. Honestly, I don’t really get it as it’s not a difficult cuisine to master. Usually it just boils down to a lack of seasoning and flavor. The closest to food back home that I’ve found here in Atlanta is AJ’s Famous Seafood and Poboys in Marietta. They don’t have a website but I’ve linked their yelp page here.
To get this party started, we’ll need: 2 cups of long grain white rice, 1 1/2 lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp, 1 lb andouille sausage, 2 cups of chicken stock, 2 cups of seafood stock, 1 cup chopped white onion, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper, 1/4 cup cajun or blackened seasoning ( I prefer Zatarains and it’s available in any supermarket. If you’re hardcore and want to make your own, there’s a good recipe here), 6 minced garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves, 2 dashes of worcestershire sauce, kosher salt to taste, 3 dashes of tobasco, and about a 1/2 cup of sliced green onions for the end.
A couple or important things to note: I prefer to use basmati rice for it’s popcorn-like aromas. I might be the first native Louisianian ever to use basmati in Jambalaya, but I think it’s just so much more interesting than regular white rice, and really adds a different dimension to the dish. You’ll also noticed that I opted to go for the shrimp, and opted to leave out the tomatoes. I personally don’t like tomatoes in my Louisiana preparations, and if I’m going to go through the trouble of making something like this, I’m adding shrimp.
The first thing we need to do is marinate the shrimp in the tobasco, 3 minced garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, and set aside. Next, we need to rinse the rice under cold running water. Some jambalaya recipes, that call for a stickier version, bypass this process all together, but I prefer my jambalayas have a fluffier consistency. Rinsing removes the surface starch. The method I prefer, is to place the rice in a strainer, and run cold water over it until the water runs clear. The most widely used method is to soak the rice is several changes of water. I’ve always found this process to be a little clumsy; by rinsing in a strainer, water and rice are not escaping all over the place.
Brown the sausage in a pot, and set aside. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and sautee until soft and translucent. Add the sausage back to the pot, along with the cajun seasoning blend, and sautee a little longer.
Add the stocks to the pot, along with the worcestershire sauce and a few pinches of kosher salt. I like to a 50/50 mixture of chicken stock and shellfish stock. I use this mixture for gumbo and other Louisiana preparations. I tried it out one day and liked the results. Let the stock come to a boil and then add the rice. Stir the rice one time, bring back to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer on a very low setting. Throw the lid on the pot and let cook, undisturbed, for about 30 minutes.
At the end, open the lid, place the marinated shrimp on top of the jambalaya, close the lid and let steam for about 5 minutes until the shrimp cook all the way through. Adding the shrimp at the beginning of the process will result in overcooked, tough shrimp. When the shrimp in done, let the jambalaya sit for a few minutes and then stir in the green onions. I prefer the green onions uncooked and added at the end for a little contrast in texture. Serve!
2 cups of basmati rice
1 1/2 lbs of peeled and deveined white shrimp
1 lb of andouille sausage
2 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of shellfish stock
1 cup of diced white onion
1/2 cup of diced celery
1/2 cup of diced green bell pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup of cajun seasoning
2 dashes of worcestershire sauce
kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup of sliced green onions
4 dashes of tobasco
Marinate the shimp in a pinch of kosher salt, all the tobasco sauce, three minced garlic cloves, and reserve off to the side. Place the rice in a strainer and run under cold water until the water runs clear. Set aside. In a heavy bottom pot, brown the andouille sausage and set aside. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, garlic, bay leaves, and sautee unit soft. Add the sausage back to the pot, along with the cajun seasoning blend, stocks, worcestershire sauce, kosher salt and bring to a boil. Add the rice, stir one time, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a low simmer. Throw the lid on the pot and cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add the shimp, cover the pot again, and then let shrimp steam until cooked though (about 5 minutes). Remove to the counter and let sit for about 10-15 minutes. Lastly, stir in the green onions and serve.