Jambalaya

Here’s a confession: I love 1-dish dishes. There’s something entirely satisfying about them sometimes, something so…basic…and yet…complex…all at the same time. Letting dishes that you’ve assembled in one dish just simmer and make beautiful tastes together is one of my favorite things. And that’s why I love this dish.

Jambalaya is usually something I associate with summer months for some reason, but I don’t know why. This dish is warm, soothing, comfort food, and, luckily, not that unhealthy. It’s from Cooking Light and it’s one of LSB’s* favorites.

*Keep reading for what this star means below.

The cast of characters is longer than usual, but seriously, this is so easy. Keep with me. Onion, red bell pepper (they were out of red bell peppers at Harris Teeter…Publix wouldn’t have been out, just saying), garlic, andouille sausage, rice (I used brown), paprika, black pepper, oregano, onion powder, thyme, garlic salt, bay leaf, chicken stock, tomato paste, hot sauce (Cholula, baby! I love that stuff.), diced tomatoes.

The recipe also calls for shrimp and fresh parsley at the end, but shrimp tends to give me a stomach ache and I don’t really like them (I know, I know, I know…let’s move on), and parsley doesn’t add anything either. So I left those out.

Phew!

The first part of this is to cook up the onion, red (cough, yellow) pepper, garlic, and sausage. So let’s get those ready.

First the pepper.

Oooh, pretty….

Then the onion…

And the garlic. So here’s how I peel garlic. I cut off the ends, and then slam the flat side of my knife on the garlic. Not only is it a stress relief, but it make the garlic slip right out of the peel, and makes it take no time at all to dice up.

So, ka-slam!

*So remember I told you I’d explain the asterisk? Well, you might notice on that left hand there’s a new addition…it’s an engagement ring!!!! That’s right! LSB is now officially LSF and eventually will be LSH as of May of 2013. Only he won’t be in law school anymore (hopefully). Hm. Well, anyway. Wow. It’s so unreal! Eeee!

Ok. This public service announcement is now officially over. We will move on.

Slice up the andouille sausage and heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven and throw these four items in and stir it around a little bit, for about 5 minutes.


LSF was being super helpful and took this action shot. It’s amazing what procrastinating on exams will do to a man.

Now, this part is just how I do it, but I personally find it super helpful and time-efficient to measure out the spices and put them in a bowl together before the 5 minutes is up.

Because I’m not baking, I’m not terribly concerned with making measurements perfect here. So if you want to, fine, I personally think jumbalaya is all about flavor, italics necessary, so ramp it up!

Paprika! Exclamation point! One teaspoon!

Pepper!

Oregeno!

Onion powder! Only you forget to take a picture of that one, so…thyme!

And last, but not least, well kind of the least since you only use 1/4 teaspoon of it…so last and least…garlic salt!

So now that you’ve added those spices together plus a bay leaf, it’s probably been about 5 minutes on the onion, garlic, sausage and pepper, so you’re ready to add the rice and this concoction. Cook it for about two minutes.

It will look “dirty” and awesome, because you know it’s packed with the flavors of cajun heaven.

I know it’s counterintuitive to cook the rice before you put any liquid in, but just trust this. It really works.

Two minutes later and now the rest of the ingredients come in.

Two cups of chicken stock…

3/4 cups of water…

A (heaping) tablespoon of tomato paste…

A teaspoon of hot sauce…

And then if you’re me or LSB, er, LSF, a ton more hot sauce because you like the flavor and love all things spicy…

And finally, the tomatoes, undrained. Ker-plop.

Now, stir all of that around, try to get as much of the brown bits off the bottom of the pan as possible with your spoon, and then turn the heat to low, and let it simmer. If you’ve used brown rice like I have, you have to let it simmer about 40-50 minutes, instead of the 20 minutes on the directions.

However, longer doesn’t hurt it. It makes it more wonderful. The flavors just meld together and make pure bliss.

So yes, just let it simmer away, covered.


Everyone, meet my dutch oven. His name is George. We’re involved. I love him to pieces. And yes, it’s a him.

40-50 minutes later, and you’re ready for your spicy awesome cajun soul food.

Enjoy!!

Here’s the full instructions, my (small) edits in italics.

From Cooking Light:

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic – 2 cloves’ worth
  • 6 ounces andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice – Brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce – Plus a bunch more, to suit your tastes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp – I didn’t do this part
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley – I didn’t do this part either

Preparation

  • Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, minced garlic, and sausage; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add rice and the next 7 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 2 minutes. Add broth, water, tomato paste, hot pepper sauce, and diced tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add shrimp; cook 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Stir in parsley.
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