Full disclosure: I started eating jambalaya and gumbo about two decades ago, but I am still somewhat confused by the difference. That confusion is compounded by the fact that they have a lot of similar ingredients, and some recipes use gumbo file on jambalaya. From what I can gather, the rice is served on the side with gumbo and simmered in the broth until cooked with jambalaya. If this is incorrect, please feel free to inform me. I am not even kidding….B walked in last night, looked at my concoction and exclaimed, “Ooh etouffee!!” 😐 All that said, I love that both jambalaya and gumbo have a spicy flavorful mix of sausage, seafood, and rice. Just thinking about it makes me drool. So, after much debate over whether I should use my tagine or cast iron skillet, I settled on the skillet and started cooking.
I used the following recipes as a reference for my attempt at jambalaya:
- Paul Prudhomme’s Poorman’s Jambalaya
- Chef John Besh: Shrimp, Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya
- Food.com: Jambalaya
Since I was on a budget and trying to use what I already had on hand, I made quite a few substitutions. Maybe not traditional, but we still enjoyed it. I used bacon instead of ham, liquid aminos instead of Worcestershire sauce, sausage crumbles instead of Andouille, Arborio rice instead of white, and added frozen okra and peas because I wanted some more veggies. In tribute to Justin Wilson aka The Cajun Chef, I also added splash of white wine while it was cooking. To complete the meal, I served with homemade cornbread. Although we ate later than expected, and I had to put the jambalaya in the oven for a while, it seemed to cook up just fine. A nice, warming dinner for a cool March evening!
Cast Iron Jambalaya
- 2- 5 oz. cans lump crabmeat
- 1 lb. frozen cooked shrimp
- 2 frozen chicken breasts
- 1- 9.6 oz. bag Jimmy Dean Sausage crumbles
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 4-6 Slices Thick Cut Bacon
- 1/4 Stick Butter
- 1- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 2- 14 oz. cans of broth, I used vegetable because I had it on hand
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 6 oz. frozen peas
- 6 oz. frozen okra
- 1 heaping Tablespoon garlic, I really like garlic; adjust to suit taste
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Cumin, Turmeric, Thyme, Savory, and/or Tarragon to suit taste
- Olive Oil
- Liquid Aminos, or Worchestershire Sauce or Soy Sauce
- 1/4 cup White Wine
- Fresh Parsley, Chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Red Pepper Flakes to taste
- Gumbo File, optional
- Add splash of olive oil to cast iron skillet and heat on medium.
- Add bacon to the pan. Fry to bacon until just before crispy.
- Drain some of the grease, reserving some (about 2 Tablespoons) in the pan.
- Add onions and saute until they start to become translucent.
- Splash with Liquid Aminos.
- Add frozen chicken breasts, fry until cooked through.
- Remove chicken and set aside (can chop now or before adding it back to the rice.)
- Add a splash of olive oil and a pat of butter to the pan. Melt butter.
- Add rice and saute as in Risotto or Rice a Roni.
- Add 1 can broth, simmer until almost absorbed.
- Add wine, simmer until almost absorbed.
- Add 1 can diced tomatoes (and juice.) Simmer until almost absorbed.
- Add 1 can crab meat (and liquid.) Simmer.
- Add a splash of liquid aminos, Bay leaves, and herbs and spices.
- Add second can of crab meat and liquid.
- Stir in shrimp, frozen vegetables, and chicken.
- Remove from heat.
- Cover with aluminum foil and place in preheated oven at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.
- Let sit for a few moments after removing from the oven.
- Sprinkle bowls of jambalaya with parsley and serve with cornbread. Enjoy!