Becca’s Jambalaya

Recently I spent an afternoon helping my friend Becca cook up a large batch of jambalaya. Becca is from Biloxi, Mississippi and has been making jambalaya for years.

Ingredients

The ingredients are listed in amounts appropriate for a jambalaya batch for serving 12 people. You can easily double or triple the recipe.

  • Andouille and smoked sausage, sliced 1/4 inch thick - 2 cups
  • Tony Chachere's Creole Jambalaya Dinner Mix - 1 8-oz box
  • Water - 2 1/4 cups
  • Uncle Ben's converted original long grain rice - 1 cup
  • Chicken broth (homemade is best) 2 1/4 cups
  • Onion - a mix of yellow, red, and green onions (tops included), all chopped - 2 cups total
  • Bell peppers - a mix of yellow, red, and green, all chopped - 2 cups total
  • Celery, chopped - 1 cup
  • Garlic, minced - 1 heaping Tablespoon
  • Bay leaves - 2 (Make sure they are fresh and strong, if not, add more)
  • Whole cooked tomatoes - 1/3 of a 32-oz can, break up the tomatoes with your fingers as they go in, reserve the tomato juice to add if necessary
  • Diced tomatoes - 1/3 of a 14-oz can
  • Tomato sauce - 1/3 of an 8-oz can
  • Sugar - 1 pinch
  • Dried thyme - 1 teaspoon
  • Tabasco sauce - several sprinkles
  • Oregano - 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning - to taste
  • Fresh Shrimp, in shell, but cut to make it easy to remove from shell - 1 1/2 to 2 lbs (Remove shells and store shrimp in ice water while shelling.)
  • Lemon juice - juice of half a lemon for each lb of shrimp

Method

1 Prepare the vegetables and shrimp. It pays to get as much of the prep work done ahead of time, especially if you are making a large batch. Note that Becca gets her shrimp fresh, not frozen, in the shell, and butterfly cut to make it easy to de-shell. After chopping up all the vegetables, de-shelling the shrimp takes a bunch of time because you want to make sure to get all of the shell pieces out. As you de-shell the shrimp, place the shrimp in a bowl of cold water. When you are done de-shelling, strain the water from the shrimp and put the shrimp in the refrigerator to stay cold. You will not add the shrimp to the jambalaya until the last 2 minutes of making this dish.

cooking-sausage-web.jpg 2 In a large skillet, fry the sausage slices on medium heat, in batches, until cooked through, about 15 minutes for each batch. As you finish each batch, pour out the sausage and whatever fat has been released into a large stockpot. The size of the stockpot depends on how much jambalaya you are making. For a this batch, I would use an 8-Qt stockpot.

tony-chacherres-mix-web.jpg 3 Add Tony Chachere's Creole Jambalaya Dinner mix, and 2 1/4 cups of water for every box used. Add Uncle Ben's long grain rice and 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth for every cup of rice used. Add onions, bell peppers, and celery. Slowly bring mixture to a simmer, on MEDIUM heat. This is slow cooking. You want it on medium to prevent the jambalaya from burning. While the jambalaya is cooking, stir it every once in a while to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom.

jambalaya-1-web.jpg 4 Add bay leaves, garlic, whole tomatoes (reserve juice), diced tomatoes, tomato sauce. Add thyme, tabasco, oregano, cayenne pepper. Slow cook on medium heat adding tomato juice and stock as needed, as the rice absorbs the liquid in the pot. You do not want it to get dried out, nor do you want it to be too liquidy. At this point, stir often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Have the temperature be just a notch below a simmer. If it begins to boil, lower the heat, or add water. Cook slowly for an hour as the rice absorbs the liquid.

Click on images for larger view.

becka-tony-chachere-web.jpgBecca with the Creole seasoning 5 While the jambalaya is cooking, taste frequently and adjust seasonings. Becca likes her jambalaya pretty hot; she says, "If you're not sweat'n, it's not hot enough!" She adds Tony Chacher's Creole seasoning to bring up the heat. Add to taste.

Click image for larger view.6 When the rice has absorbed as much moisture as it will, slowly fold in the shrimp. Add lemon juice (1/2 a lemon for each lb of shrimp). Cover and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and you're done.

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