Next week is Mardi Gras (February 9, 2016) so the folks down in New Orleans have been celebrating a while now with parties, parades and all manner of revelry. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) celebrations have actually been around for thousands of years as
festivals of spring and fertility but when Christianity was established, the holiday became associated with the last day of merry making and eating rich food before Lent.
Many dishes are associated with Mardi Gras including crawfish etouffee, gumbo and this jambalaya, a rice based dish that is great for serving a crowd.
If you wondered about the difference between Creole versus Cajun food, one basic difference is that Creole food uses tomatoes while Cajun food generally does not. Since we opted out of tomatoes with this dish, I guess we made Cajun jambalaya but you can use tomatoes if you want to make it Creole. Just add them when the other vegetables go in.
The protein in jambalaya can vary but we went with the very traditional chicken, shrimp and sausage. Feel free to modify based on your tastes.
Mardi Gras will be reaching a full fledged fervor this weekend with parades from the so-called “super krewes” of Orpheus, Bacchus and Endymion which feature the most massive and detailed floats. Check out www.mardigrasneworleans.com for a full schedule.
Chicken, Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya
- Vegetable oil
- 3-4 pounds chicken thighs
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1 large green pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 3 tablespoons parsley, minced
- 1 pound raw shrimp
- 6 smoked sausages (Andouille or Polish)
- 3 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 ½ cups long grain white rice
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil on medium heat until hot. Cook the chicken pieces with the skin on until golden brown on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside. Add the shrimp and sauté 2 minutes each side. Remove shrimp and set aside. Add all the vegetables into the pot and cook on medium until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the sausage and seasonings and cook until the sausage is browned. Add the chicken, broth and water. Stir gently, making sure chicken is submerged. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, then cover the pot. Simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and bring heat to medium for 10 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed. During the last 10 minutes, remove chicken. When it is cool enough to handle, remove meat, discard skin and bones and add shredded meat back into jambalaya. Add the shrimp and cook until heated through.