Jambakinda is my simplified weeknight jambalaya, not strictly authentic but definitely strictly delicious–and super easy!
Jambakinda… too cheesy? Yes? Well, at any rate I would like to make clear that this is no way is supposed to be a real jambalaya–but it is supposed to emulate the flavors and textures of one. And I actually think it succeeds pretty well. It was both faster and less stressful than a traditional jambalaya, where the rice is cooked in the broth/sauce. Somehow, the rice in those dishes, paella, jambalaya, etc, never ends up cooked through enough for me–or it ends up soggy. This less traditional take is also more pleasing to *my* palate, as it is less tomatoey than a Creole jambalaya, but it does have tomatoes, unlike a Cajun jambalaya. And I have no idea if the peas and lime juice belong, but they sounded yummy to me!
[Update February 2016: Unlike many of my older posts whose photography has been updated, I rather like my original photos for this dish. They are not plated well or styled in any way, but the shrimp especially looks succulent in them. So I have left one below, but have also added photos I took recently when I made this dish again. Note there are extra peas added because I had some that needed to be used and we adore peas.]
The spices I call for may look a little haphazard and/or involved. Basically I wanted a Cajun/Creole seasoning, but I wanted to make it from scratch. However, most call for garlic and onion powder (one or both) and I had neither, but I did have a complimentary Emeril’s Original Essence sent to me through a FoodBuzz Tastemaker program. Check out Emeril’s website for all of his products. Although his seasoning had salt, and therefore was used sparingly by me, it had terrific flavor and I was glad I had it to throw in. Feel free to use whatever spice combination (or pre-made blend) you like for Creole or Cajun dishes. Just be wary of those that have salt–if it has salt, use a little less and bulk it up with some of the suggested spices below. This is especially true if you use a commercial chicken stock (which I did this time).
- ½ T bacon grease or lard
- 1 medium-large onion, chopped
- salt to taste
- ⅓ cup chicken stock
- ½ lb andouille sausage, chicken is fine, sliced lengthwise
- 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅛ t chili powder
- ½ t sweet paprika
- ⅛ t half sharp paprika
- ⅛ t thyme
- ⅛ t oregano
- ⅛-1/4 t Creole seasoning (amount you use will depend on whether it has salt, use less if it does)
- 4 medium small tomatoes, chopped (I used frozen--canned is ok but it will change the outcome to a more tomatoey creation)
- 5 oz frozen peas
- 1¼ cups Texmati rice, rinsed and boiled until no longer hard, about 8 mins
- juice of 2 limes or lemons
- shrimp--see recipe below
- For the shrimp:
- I did not measure for the shrimp--choose the number of shrimp you want to serve, and then sprinkle some Creole seasoning, medium chili powder and sweet paprika over them. Toss the shrimp and let them marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. While the rice casserole is baking, heat some vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet and toss the shrimp in. Cook until pink and curled--and a little browned--on each side. Squeeze half of a lime over the shrimp at the end and serve on top of the rice casserole
- For the rice casserole:
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Heat a medium sized Dutch oven over medium heat on the cooktop. Add the bacon grease, heat it, and add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are quite caramelized and sticking to the bottom of the pan--deglaze with chicken stock. Cook until the stock is evaporated.
- Add the sausage to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the sausage is browned, about 6 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook until softened and the liquid has reduced, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes as the mixture reduces and thickens, although it will be fairly saucy.
- In the meantime, rinse the rice several times and add it to the boiling water. Boil until it is softened--it will be a little chewy but no longer have the hardness to its middle, about 8 minutes. Drain the rice until it is just a little wet. Add it to the Dutch oven and mix it in. Place it in the oven for 20 minutes.
- At the end of the 20 minutes, add the peas and mix them in and return to the oven to let the mixture heat through, 3-5 minutes. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime (or lemon) over the casserole and top with shrimp before serving. Hit with more lime (or lemon) juice if sounds good to you--it did to me!