I think I can say that I have a favorite food. I said “I THINK”. There are just too many options, but I think I can definitively say that this one will stick around as the number one contender.
My birthday was last week. Yaaay. Normally, we would have had a houseful, including our two daughters (15 and 10) and our son (3). However, it ended up being just my wife, our son and I. It made for a quiet birthday, but also gave me a little more leeway with my birthday meal of choice.
“What do you want for dinner on your birthday?”
Is it just me, or is that damn near the hardest question anyone could ask you? Maybe is it just me. Or maybe, it’s because there’s too many options. I watched a TED talk one time about to many options and how they could cause indecisiveness. Basically if you limit your choices, it will be so much easier to pick.
I didn’t limit my choices. (I don’t know how I could’ve) So I dug into my memory bank and just thought of random good times that were had with amazing food.
I recalled a time when I worked at a retail jewelry store on our local shopping mall. It was my good friend Tiffany’s birthday, so my manager wanted to make her birthday dinner since she had to be at work, and man did she choose right.
It was soooo good. Shrimp, andouille sausage, rice peppers…AHH. The leftover container stayed at work and Tiffany and I ate on that stuff for three or four days after that. Even for breakfast.
Naturally, when I remembered that time and how good that jambalaya was, I had to have it again, and make it my own.
Going into making this dish, I wasn’t (still not) a Cajun or creole expert. I knew the basics of jambalaya, and it didn’t take much research to figure out what I wanted to do and how to do it.
We had pretty much everything but sausage and shrimp. Then, it was off to the super market for the sausage, where we found an AMAZING, all natural chicken andouille sausage.
Then, it was off to our good friend Will Rhode’s seafood shack for the shrimp. Humbly named Rhode’s Seafood, this place HAS IT ALL. All in all the store front is probably smaller than your kitchen, but this is no reflection of his selection. It’s always hard to go in there and keep on target with what you came to get. In the past we’ve gotten steamed shrimp and crab legs, (which he’ll steam and spice right there for you!) tuna steaks, stuffed flounder, calamari, and hush puppies.
LITERALLY everything has been amazing. If you live in this area and you’ve never been, you are doing yourself a disservice. CHECK HIM OUT. Here is his Facebook page with all of the information you need: Rhode’s Seafood
Also, the shrimp he gave us were massive! He’s the man!
Once you try out my recipe for jambalaya, I think you’ll find that you can easily add It to your repertoire of regular meals. The most work is the chopping up of the veggies and sausage, and peeling and deveining the shrimp. After that, it’s a basic sauté and simmer.
‘Tis the Season
Useful Equipment Alert!!!
I highly, highly recommend using a dutch oven. The one that I’ve been using on a weekly basis for the last 4 years is amazing and I’ve had zero issues with it. It’s a Lodge enameled cast iron and I freaking love it. Check it out here: Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Also, I should take this moment to encourage you to make your own creole seasoning! It’s super easy and if you cooks at home on a regular basis, you most likely have everything you need to make it.
In conclusion…JAMBALAYA…it’s my new favorite food. The richness, spiciness, and complexity of flavors and textures are my favorite things about this dish. Give it a shot. You might just surprise yourself.
This isn’t a huge batch. It serves 4.
- 1 medium onion, diced medium
- 1 cup of bell peppers, diced medium (I did mini sweet and green)
- 1 stalk of celery, diced medium
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 lb of andouille sausage, sliced thin on the bias
- 1/2 lb of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tbsp creole seasoning, more to taste
- 2-3 cups chicken broth, depending on thickness
- 1 14oz can of crushed tomatoes (I know, I know, never put tomatoes in jambalaya)
- 1 cup white rice, rinsed and drained
- vinegar based hot sauce (like Frank’s Red Hot or Texas Pete)
- salt and pepper
- In a large dutch oven, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan over medium high heat until shimmering. Add in the onions, celery, and peppers and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic, creole seasoning, and sausage and continue to cook another 2 minutes.
- Use a splash of chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Add it in, and while it’s bubbling, scrap the bottom of the pan to loosen up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Add in the rest of the chicken broth, the can of tomatoes and 1 tbsp of hot sauce. Stir well to combine and bring to a boil.
- Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 10 minutes, making sure you still have some liquid.
- Add in the shrimp and stir to combine. Cook for another 5 minutes, ensuring the shrimp cook through and most of the liquid has cooked out. Raise temperature if need be.
- Check for seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper, more creole seasoning and more hot sauce. Serve piping hot with hot sauce.