No need to wait until Mardi Gras! Jambalaya is easy to make, and it’s such a versatile recipe! Just about anything can go into it.
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Use a heavy stock pot or Dutch oven.
♣ Over low to medium heat, melt 1/3 cup bacon grease, butter or lard. Tip: save bacon grease when you cook bacon, and keep it in a container in the freezer.
♣ Saute in the bacon grease until soft: one medium diced onion, a diced clove of garlic and a diced green pepper. You can also add diced celery to the saute mix.
♣ Once these vegetables are soft, you can add a handful of frozen, diced okra. (another optional ingredient).
♣ While the vegetables are cooking, dice up the meat or seafood you will be using. Options are andouille sausage, seafood sausage, shrimp, ham, chicken or smoked sausage. I’ve tried them all, but like the andouille sausage the best, plus some diced ham. Add the meat to the sauteed vegetables, and continue to cook until the meats are heated through.
♣ Depending on how much meat you are using, and how much you like rice, add one to two cups of rice to the mixture. Continue to cook until the rice is lightly browned. There are options here too! One time, I ran out of white rice, and all I had was a package of seasoned yellow rice. I used the rice, then figured what the hell, and threw in the season packet as well. I really like how it turned out, and that’s what I used for the photo above. The seasonings in the rice mix added a nice flavour to the jambalaya.
♣ After the rice is browned, add a small can of diced tomatoes to the pot. You can also use 2 – 3 fresh tomatoes, or canned whole tomatoes – but chop them up a little first.
♣ Stir to combine the ingredients, and cook for a few minutes.
♣ Depending on how much rice you used, add one to two cups of beef broth, chicken broth or vegetable broth. I use about 1 cup of rice, and add 1 1/2 cups of broth. Tip: when you cook chicken, add water to the pan and save the broth in 1 cup containers in the freezer. You can also save the water from steamed vegetables. I use whatever I have on hand in the freezer when I make jambalaya. If you don’t have any broth, just use water and a few bouillon cubes or Better Than Bouillon.
♣ Add a little cayenne pepper to the mixture, and stir. 1/4 teaspoon is good – depends on how much heat you like. Add salt to taste, and stir.
♣ Cover the pot, and turn the heat down to low. Cook for about 45 minutes, or until the rice is done and no liquid remains.
♣ Before serving, top with chopped fresh parsley and chopped green onions during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
I make jambalaya in an enameled cast iron Dutch oven like this one. The cast iron seems to distribute the heat evenly and thoroughly, and I love it!