Jambalaya is a popular dish of West African, French (especially Provençal cuisine), and Spanish influence, consisting mainly of meat and vegetables mixed with rice.
Traditionally, the meat always includes sausage of some sort, often a smoked meat such as andouille, along with pork or chicken and seafood (less common), such as crawfish or shrimp.
The vegetables are usually a sofrito-like mixture known as the "holy trinity" in Cajun cooking, consisting of onion, celery, and green bell pepper, though other vegetables such as okra, carrots, tomatoes, chiles and garlic are also used. After browning and sautéing the meat and vegetables, rice, seasonings and broth are added and the entire dish is cooked together until the rice is done.
Pic1: starting a jambalaya with vegetables
Pic2+3: jambalaya with sausages and shrimp
There are two primary methods of making jambalaya, differentiated by the presence or absence of tomatoes.
- The first is Creole jambalaya (also called "red jambalaya"). First, meat is added to the trinity of celery, peppers, and onions; the meat is usually chicken and sausage such as andouille or smoked sausage. Next vegetables and tomatoes are added to cook, followed by seafood. Rice and stock are added in equal proportions at the very end. The mixture is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the recipe, with infrequent stirring. Towards the end of the cooking process, stirring usually ceases. Some versions call for the jambalaya to be baked after the cooking of all the ingredients.
- The second style, more characteristic of southwestern and south-central Louisiana, is Cajun jambalaya, which contains no tomatoes. The meat is browned in a cast-iron pot. The bits of meat that stick to the bottom of the pot are what give a Cajun jambalaya its brown color. A little vegetable oil is added if there is not enough fat in the pot. The trinity (of 50% onions, 25% celery, and 25% green or red bell pepper, although proportions can be altered to suit one's taste) is added and sautéed until soft. Stock and seasonings are added in the next step, and then the meats are returned to the pot. This mixture is then simmered, covered, for at least one hour. Lastly, the mixture is brought to a boil and rice is added to the pot. It is then covered and left to simmer over very low heat for at least 1/2 hour without stirring. The dish is finished when the rice has cooked.
In a less common method, meat and vegetables are cooked separately from the rice. At the same time, rice is cooked in a savory stock. It is added to the meat and vegetables before serving. This is called "white jambalaya". This dish is rare in Louisiana as it is seen as a "quick" attempt to make jambalaya, popularized outside the state to shorten cooking time.
Many people in the south, and typically in Louisiana, enjoy a simpler jambalaya style. This style is cooked the same as the Cajun style, but there are no vegetables. Many restaurants serve this style as opposed to the others, because it is more child-friendly, has a more consistent texture, and is easier to make.
a. jambalaya with sausages
& apple compote
I don't usually make jambalaya from scratch. It is so much easier to use prepackaged rice that includes jambalaya spices.
I keep it simple, with sausages only. Feel free to add vegetables and shrimp.