As with many Louisiana dishes, jambalaya has distinctive Creole and Cajun versions. Creole jambalaya is reddish, a color it gets from tomatoes. Cajun jambalaya never includes tomatoes, and is brown. Creole jambalaya almost always contains shrimp. Cajun jambalaya usually includes smoked sausage or tasso. Which jambalaya is better is the subject of one of the longest-running arguments in the annals of Louisiana cookery.
Instead of stepping into that mess, I present here my favorite kind of jambalaya. It has some elements of both styles, with oysters giving a unique flavor. I don’t like tomatoes in jambalaya, so I leave them out–but if you add a 16-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with the vegetables, that would be okay and quite authentic.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 4 lbs. chicken pieces, bone in
- 2 lb. andouille or smoked sausage, sliced across 1/4 inch thick
- 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
- 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 cups oyster water or chicken stock, plus enough more water to make 7 cups total
- 1 Tbs. Tabasco
- 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. thyme
- 1/2 tsp. marjoram
- 1 Tbs. salt-free Creole seasoning
- 1 Tbs. salt
- 4 cups (uncooked) Uncle Ben’s rice (or similar par-boiled rice)
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 4 dozen large fresh oysters
1. Heat the oil in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven. Add the chicken and sausage and brown the chicken all over, till it sticks to the pan somewhat.
2. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic, and sauté until they wilt.
3. Add the oyster water or stock and enough more water to make 7 cups total. Bring to a light boil, stirring to dissolve the browned bits in the pot.
4. Add Tabasco, Worcestershire, bay leaf, thyme, marjoram, Creole seasoning and salt. Bring the pot to a boil, Lower to a light boil and cook for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the chicken. Stir the rice into the pot. Cover and lower to a simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and set aside.
6. When the rice is cooked, stir in the chicken, green onions, parsley, and oysters. Stir all the ingredients well with a big spoon or wooden paddle. Continue to cook, uncovered, at the lowest possible temperature, stirring gently every couple of minutes, until the rice is just beginning to dry. Add seasonings to taste.
Serves twelve to eighteen.