Food & Drink

Let Mardis Gras keep going with this Cajun jambalaya recipe

Make your own jambalaya and let the Mardis Gras fun continue.
Make your own jambalaya and let the Mardis Gras fun continue. Getty Images/iStockphoto

So much for the spring cooking brings spring weather idea. The stark reality is that we’re still experiencing winter, so we might as well embrace it. Let’s keep enjoying savory, delicious slow-cooked foods like this week’s Cajun Jambalaya. Sorry for being a day late for Fat Tuesday. Just keep celebrating.

For years, my husband has made Cajun food for us. He’s been down to New Orleans a dozen or more times and kept promising us a trip. We haven’t made it down together, but I did sneak in a trip last fall to the Big Easy with some girlfriends. The city was beautiful with its architecture, Southern hospitality and incredible food on every corner. Traveling is just an adventure where you get to experience three restaurants a day, after all.

Cajun food has its roots in French cooking since the Acadian people came down from Canada in the 18th century. The Acadians had to adapt their cooking to what was available down south, integrating crab, alligator, crawfish, shrimp and redfish into their soups and stews. There wasn’t lobster, salmon or cod in the South.

Cajun food has deep, rich flavors using Cajun spice with paprika, garlic, onion, cayenne pepper, oregano and thyme and usually either has a roux or some type of stock – often chicken or seafood. Two of my favorite spots to pick up Cajun spice already mixed up are The Spice Merchant for a local option and also Penzeys Spices online.

While Cajun isn’t a cuisine we ate growing up, its become a winter favorite. The spicy, flavorful, protein-packed bowl of goodness can chase away any winter blues. Make yourself some, and don’t forget to invite some friends over, too. It’s just as easy to make a big batch as it is a small one.

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Cajun Jambalaya

¾ pound chicken, cut to bite-sized pieces

¾ pound Andouille sausage

2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped bell peppers

½ cup chopped celery

4 tablespoons chopped garlic

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hot sauce

4 cups chicken stock

1 ½ cups rice

¾ pound shrimp, 40-50 count

Pepper, to taste

Mix chicken and sausage in a bowl with the Cajun seasoning and salt, stirring until spice is mixed evenly.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil and brown the chicken and sausage. Then add the Cajun holy trinity – onion, bell pepper and celery – and cook until soft. Add garlic to the skillet to soften and slightly brown.

Add bay leaves, Worcestershire, hot sauce, chicken stock and rice. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and cook until the rice is done, about 40 minutes. Add the shrimp the last 10 minutes of the rice cooking. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if desired.