There are literally hundreds of variations of Jambalaya. No other dish quite captures the flavor of Louisiana. The recipe featured here is an instant classic by Emeril Lagasse. It is unbelievably good and quite spicy. Make this on a cold winter night for a football game and serve among friends. You will not be disappointed.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups chopped spanish onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
3 tsp. salt
1-1/4 tsp. cayenne powder
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4″ slices
1-1/2 pounds boneless white chicken, cubed
3 bay leaves
3 cups medium-grain white rice*
6 cups water
1 cup chopped scallion
Heat the oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven. Add the spanish onion, bell pepper, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. cayenne pepper. Stir and carmelize.
Add the andouille and brown. Season chicken with remaining cayenne and salt. Add the chicken and bay leaves to pot. Stir until browned.
Add the rice and stir to coat. *NOTE: DO NOT USE THE QUICK-COOKING 5-MINUTE RICE. IT WILL TURN TO MUSH IN A VERY SHORT TIME. Add the water, stir well and cover. Cook over medium heat for 30-35 minutes until rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Stir once during this process; there is no need to fiddle with it constantly.
Remove from heat and let stand covered for 2-3 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Add the scallion, stir and serve.
This dish is even better the second day. Serve with cornbread and a nice spinach salad.
Jambalaya Origin: 1872
The word jambalaya in English dates from 1872 as a borrowing from the French of the Cajuns in Louisiana. It appears in the New Orleans Times for June 28, 1872: “Those who brought victuals, such as gumbo, jambalaya, etc., all began eating and drinking.”
The word is from Provençal, the Romance language of southwestern France, where jambalaia is composed mostly of rice and chicken or other fowl. In Cajun culture jambalaya is a staple of everyday cooking. Its contents are so varied that it has been said, if you have it in the kitchen you can put it in the pot. Popular ingredients besides rice and chicken include sausage, seafood, tomatoes, celery, onion, and green peppers. And don’t forget the cayenne pepper, garlic, thyme, and rosemary.
The traditional way to cook it, as with most stews, is for a long time. But like everything else, it is available nowadays as Fast Food too. In Louisiana, jambalaya is used figuratively too, for “a mixture of ingredients.” The Times-Picayune of New Orleans noted in 1951, “A Creole beauty, a murder in a fashionable French home, an illicit love affair…–these are the ingredients of the movies’ latest jambalaya.”