When I was in the fourth grade, I went on a trip to New Orleans. At nine years old, I really didn’t understand much of the allure of the city, but there was one thing I knew without a doubt: I was obsessed with the food. We ate beignets at Cafe du Monde, and crawfish etouffee at some little restaurant off of some little street. We went on a tour where they took us to a bakery for pralines. Everything was so flavorful and tasty, and as a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
Perhaps the most memorable meal to my fourth grade self was going to Emeril’s restaurant NOLA. I mean, come on: this guy was on the Food Network!! I may not have fully understood that he wasn’t actually in the kitchen making my meal, but whatever. I remember loving the food and feeling so fancy!
Anyway, ever since then, whenever I think of Cajun food, I think of Emeril. In honor of Mardi Gras last week, I was planning on making his recipe for Jambalaya on Tuesday to go with our apple fritters. But then we ended up with tickets to a Flyers game (where my Columbus Blue Jackets won, heck yes!), so taking the time to make a full dinner just wasn’t going to happen. Whatever. This jambalaya tasted just as good after the fact.
When I finally got around to making it, my husband and I were both really happy with it. He doesn’t like chunks of tomatoes, so I compromised by adding them to the sauce but not to the rice dish itself. And, honestly, it worked out really well that way. The jambalaya itself wasn’t at all soggy from the extra juices, but the flavors really shined through, especially in the sauce. Filled with onions and peppers and plenty of cayenne, this jambalaya has significant spice without being overwhelming. You can certainly kick it up more if you want to by shaking on some Tabasco at the end, but it was perfect for us the way it was. And the sauce was AWESOME. We have extras leftover, and I can’t wait to figure out what else to do with it. I will, without question, be making it again.
Making this jambalaya wasn’t nearly as good as an actual trip to New Orleans, but the flavor profiles definitely brought me back there, so that’s nothing to complain about. Although, if someone wants to spring for me to go there, I certainly won’t complain…
Jambalaya with Creole Sauce
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped bell pepper
- ¾ – 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ lb fresh chorizo, casing removed
- ½ lb boneless, skinless chicken cut into 1” cubes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ½ cup white rice
- 3 cups water
- ½ cup scallion
- Creole Sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp Worcester sauce
- 2 – 3 cups vegetable stock
- ¼ cup scallions
- Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, and cayenne, and sauté for about 15 minutes until the vegetables start to caramelize, stirring often.
- Crumble in the sausage, and continue to sauté for about 10 minutes. Stir regularly, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add in the bay leaves and chicken and sauté for another 5 minutes until browned on the outside.
- Stir in the rice for about a minute, being sure to coat it with the oil and seasonings. Add the water, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 20 – 30 minutes, until the water has been absorbed into the rice and the rice is cooked through. Once cooked, stir in the scallions, replace cover, and let stand for about five minutes before serving.
- While the rice is cooking, make the creole sauce:
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Sauté together the onion, pepper, and celery until the veggies start to wilt, about five minutes.
- Add in the garlic and herbs, and sauté for 30 seconds – 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, Worcester sauce, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Stir in scallions and serve with the jambalaya.