Everyone loves a big bowl of Jambalaya! There are few one pot dishes that encompass all the beauty of Louisiana cuisine like Jambalaya.
Today I wanted to talk Jambalaya, more specific, Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya. Before we get into recipes and techniques, I want to give a little background on myself. I'm from Birmingham, AL, what do I know about jambalaya? Fair question, and I hope my answer is worthy.
We have to go back briefly to my early 30s when I started cooking more than just burgers and chicken on the grill. The rise of the internet and specialty networks like the Food Channel (I believe it started as Channel before becoming Network)n opened the doors for me to learn more about food. Emeril Live was on every night and cajun/creole dishes were regular items on his show. Well, let's move forward and spare you the boring details, the point is I became inspired by Louisiana Cuisine.
Over the years I read many cajun and creole books, found websites like Gumbo Pages, videos on YouTube, etc. I cooked gumbo, jambalaya, cajun pasta dishes, and many more Louisiana dishes over the years. BUT! It wasn't until years later that I actually spent about four years in south Louisiana right outside of NOLA. Now was my chance! This food I obsessed over and cooked many times is now right here in front of my very eyes!
As I befriended some of the locals they were all very generous with their cooking techniques and I also began to learn more about the culture, love, and authenticity of Louisiana Cuisine. By some streak of luck, I was hired to cater a big Mardi Gras Parade event for 500 people and the company wanted 30 gallons of jambalaya in addition to our bbq. Well, 30 gallons is a far cry from my 6 quart dutch over! So what did I do? I looked for a real Cajun!
I met Gary at our local watering hole and one day I asked where he was from. He answered "Tib a doe". What? Later I discovered it was Thibadaux and when I asked where it was located he simply said, "Down n da Bi". Again, WHAT? WHERE? So he slowed down and this time he said "Bi U". Well, wherever this is, I knew one thing, I found my cajun, let the learning begin!
And so my jambalaya cooking went to the next level and we pulled off the 30 gallon pot. I would learn about white beans, red beans and rice, gumbo, crawfish and seafood boils, catfish on Friday, and so many more dishes. I would sit for hours and talk to the locals and learn about their parents and grandparents and the history of their love for this food.
I'll never be from Louisiana and certainly not the "Bi", but I will always cherish the best years of my life in an area that I love and respect. Through this, I continue to follow my passion for the Cajun and Creole cuisine. This brings us to the present, and I'm now back in Birmingham, but the jambalaya pot will always be close.
Here is our recipe for Jambalaya. Out of respect for Gary, I have left out a couple of things he added, but this is a wonderful base recipe and technique. You can follow this recipe and serve excellent Cajun Jambalaya and as you develop your recipe and technique add to it. Gary once told me when I asked about a adding or subtracting a few ingredients, "It don't mattah, just put your 'magination' in it!"
Thanks Gary, and all the other folks who influenced my love for food and South Louisiana Cuisine. Judy, Comeax, Sean, Tommy (all the Tommy's), Kenny, KZ, S and J, and all those at Times who shared a few secrets and let me serve them a little food along the way. One day I will be back!
By the way.......Here's Gary
Be sure to view one of the best Jambalaya videos I have seen online. This is by Krajun Kravings and I think he does a great job of demonstrating how to make jambalaya in a cast iron pot.
2 Men and a Pig Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
This is for a 5 Gallon Pot at 75% capacity.
- Bacon or 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 12 Lbs of Chicken Thighs, Sausage, Pork. We use equal portions.
- 12 Cups Rice
- 6 Qts of Water or Stock (if using water add 2 Tablespoons of chicken base)
- 1.5 Lbs Onion
- 3 Bell Peppers diced
- 4 Celery Stalks diced - (We only use onions)
- 6-8 Garlic cloves - diced (optional)
- 2 - 3 Green Onion bunches
- Italian Parsley half a bunch
- Cajun Seasoning to taste
- 3.6 Teaspoons Salt
- 11 Tsp Garlic Powder (to taste if using garlic cloves)
- 2-1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper or to taste
- 1-1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Tsp White Pepper
- Hot Sauce (Crystal!) to taste
- Dash Worcestershire Sauce
- Cook bacon to render fat or heat oil
- Season Pork and Chicken with Cajun Seasoning (can be done well in advance)
- Add Seasoned Pork and cook in bacon grease or oil until it sticks and starts to brown. Then toss and stir it around and cook again until it sticks. Do this several times until cooked and graton begins to form. Our friend at Kajun Kravings points out to use a little water if the pot gets to hot.
- Remove pork once cooked. Leave the graton!
- Add chicken and follow same process as pork. Remove when cooked
- Add sausage and cook until it just begins to brown. Do not overcook. Remove when cooked.
- When all the meat is finished and removed drain excess grease/oil.
- Add onions and cook scraping the graton from the pot. Once the onions have cooked for several minutes let them sweat with the lid on for 5 minutes.
- Remove lid and add all meat back to pot. Cook until water is cooked out of the pot.
- Add water or stock and bring to a boil. Start adding salt. Once the liquid is boiling taste to make sure it is salty. Add other seasonings. At this point we add a few splashes of hot sauce and worcestershire sauce. This is also the point Gary adds a few "other thing". Remember, "Just put your magination in it"
- Skim any fat from the top.
- Add green onions and be sure the pot is back to a boil.
- Add rice and stir. Be sure water is boiling before you add rice. Keep stirring until rice expands.
- Cut heat WAY back, to 20-25% and cover for 25 minutes and DO NOT open or lift the lid. After 25 minutes "Roll" the rice. Be sure to see this on the video!
- Cover again and turn heat completely OFF. Let this sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Serve and ENJOY!
Hope you enjoy and of course there are many other ways to do this. If we can help at all please let us know! We also carry a full line of Jambalaya Pots, Burners, and Accessories.