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.

Becca’s Jambalaya Recipe

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.jpg
Becca 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.

A big thanks to Becca for her patience with all my questions and for letting me play sous chef. Thanks Becca! (next stop gumbo...)

Links:
Sean's Jambalaya from Hedonia
Jambalaya Juju from Barbara of Tigers & Strawberries
Lex Culinaria's Jambalaya

18 Comments

  1. dksbook

    I love your site! I’ve been visiting about 4 months now, but this is the first time I have commented, even though there have been so many entries that are just as interesting and I wanted to comment about – like the gingerale! (I make homemade GA too – I keep syrup on hand for when somebody is sick). My thinking about jambalaya is that it like paella, so I cook it like that – in a wide pot, wider than it is tall. I use a 16 inch paella pan I bought at Costco for a ridiculously low price compared to the one I wanted from William-Sonoma, and I make it pretty much like Becca. I even use Tony Chachere’s help! I like the presentation in a paella pan – it really shows off the ingredients. When I saw that picture of the finished recipe, though – I just wanted some, and was ready to jump into the computer to help Becca’s friends eat it.

  2. Kalyn

    This does look wonderful. I learned about Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning from a teacher from Louisiana who simply called it Tony’s (as if everyone would know what it was by that name.) It’s my favorite seasoning of this type by far.

  3. james

    I make my own jambalaya with my own spices.

    I just use thyme, oregano, pepper, cayenne, and bay leaf.

    it turns out the same as the stuff you find in the bayou. I know cause I’ve eaten it there.

  4. Jimmy

    This recipe looks a lot like the recipe that I use except that we can’t get Tony’s seasoning here in northern Minnesota so I have to use individual spices. Also, I frequently use wild rice instead of white rice. It gives the Jambalaya a whole different flavor. Good stuff!

  5. Nell, Cajun in Iowa

    Slap Ya’ Mama is another good local seasoning that is less salty than Tony’s.

    I do prefer to use a from scratch recipe, it only takes about 10 minutes longer than using a box mix. The box mixes just use too much salt and msg for my personal taste. I like to taste the spices instead.

  6. Sean

    Wow! My version was somewhat more expedient. Perhaps not as authentic, and the flavor less intense, but tasty nonetheless. However, the next time I’m cooking up a batch for 20-30 people (and this does come up more often than you might think), I’ll certainly refer back to you and Becca.

  7. Barbara

    Aww–Becca has a great smile!

    As for Tony’s–that is what I call it, too. And while I generally make my own seasoning mix these days, I learned to make jambalaya from folks who swore by Tony’s seasoning in the big green can!

    And I used it for years and years, myself.

    Great stuff!

    I never used the boxed mix, though.

  8. Carrie

    This was great!!

    Fair warning though – this makes a lot!

    I only had Zatarains mix on hand and had to use frozen peppers and frozen shrimp, but all worked out wonderfully and my husband and I have loads of leftovers. Thanks again!

  9. Frank

    One story about jamabalaya is that the name came from jambon, French for ham, and aya, African for rice. I always make mine from scratch with lots of ham and sausage.

    I don’t use salt but I use the three ground peppers: red, white and black, maybe a teaspoon in total. The taste is not hot from too much pepper but it is spicy from the different effects of the three peppers. Other spices include thyme, sage and cumin.

    I use brown rice.

  10. Nell, Cajun in Iowa

    Here’s the spice mix I use:

    Seasoning:

    * 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    * 2 tablespoons salt
    * 2 cloves minced garlic
    * 1 whole onion
    * 1 tablespoon tellicherry black peppercorns mix
    * 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (or 1 crushed whole dried cayenne)
    fresh leaf oregano
    fresh leaf thyme
    1 tablespoon raw sugar
    (crush in a pestle like you would a curry paste)

    If you just want a seasoning mix for everyday use:

    * 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    * 2 tablespoons salt
    * 2 tablespoons garlic powder
    * 1 tablespoon onion powder
    * 1 tablespoon tellicherry black peppercorns mix
    * 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (more to taste)
    * 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
    1 tablespoon dried leaf thyme
    1 teaspoons of raw sugar

  11. luigiwu

    How awesome is this recipe!!! Thank you!!! I’m *dying* for an awesome Seafood Gumbo recipe. When I was down in New Orleans approx. 6 years ago we had gumbo at a place called Olivier’s (sp?) It was soooo good. I still think about it a lot. Can’t wait to see a gumbo recipe soon! Will be trying this Jambalaya one very soon!

  12. glenn

    Yum, thank you so much for posting this recipe. We’re eating it right now for a Nascar race and it rocks! Serves so many people and so easy to make.

  13. Brandon

    Sorry, but you don’t put tomatoes in jambalaya. You need a cast iron jambalaya pot over a propane burner. These pots are designed specificaly for cooking jambalaya and sit in a cradle that keeps it the right distance from the fire so you don’t burn your rice. It takes about a 2 1/2 gallon pot to do a jambalaya for 30 people. Be easy with your fire, don’t get it too hot. Take your time. To do it right your gonna need a few hours. Sautee your onions, bell peppers and green onions in a little oil. Don’t burn them, just get them soft, we don’t do al dente. Add your meat, about a pound of each: chicken (use boneless thighs, the breasts get too dry), smoked and/or andouille sausage (Manda’s, Richard’s or Savoie’s), pork (Boston Butt), you can add tasso, venison, etc. Experiment, just don’t use beef. Add some seasoning: Tony’s (not Slap Ya Mama) when it’s salty enough it’s right, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, thyme, fresh ground black pepper. Don’t add any cayenne or red pepper just yet. Brown your meat and then cook it a little longer. Add your rice, white, brown, doesn’t matter. You’re gonna need about 3 pounds for 30 people. Brown may need to cook a little longer, for white you may need to add a little Kitchen Bouquet to darken it up some. Only use one cup of water to one cup of rice. Put the lid on, let it cook on a real low fire for about 30 minutes and then turn it, fold it. Don’t stir it, turn it. You’ll need a paddle to do this effectively. (Don’t go all the way to the bottom of your pot either. If you did happen to burn a little you don’t want to break it loose and ruin the rest of your jambalaya.) You can use a stainless one or an old wooden boat paddle will even work. You will see your water start to disipate. Taste it and add more seasoning to fit your taste. Add Tony’s till it’s salty enough. If it’s not hot enough add a little cayenne, but be careful, a little goes a long way. If it’s needs a little body add some Cavenders Greek Seasoning. Put the lid on and let it go for another 20 minutes. Take the lid off, turn it, fold it. If still too much water, let it go for another 20 minutes. Keep doing this until the water’s gone. That’s it. Taste it each time you take the lid off and adjust it if you need to. Make sure you have some sweet pickles to eat on the side. They go best with jambalaya and help to cool your tounge off. You’re not going to find the best jambalaya in any restaurant. Ride around the streets of Baton Rouge and on just about any given weekend you’ll find someone doing a jambalya to raise money for their church or school. Check the Wal-Mart parking lots, they set up there a lot. This is where you will find the best jambalaya in the world.

  14. AntBea

    The Creoles make their Jambalaya with tomatoes (Creole tomatoes), and the Cajuns do not usually add tomatoes in their Jambalaya

    Back in the day my family called a Cajun Jambalaya a “brown Jambalaya”, no tomatoes!

    This recipe looks very good, however I am wondering why it calls for Tony’s Jambalaya mix?

    Because it’s my friend Becca’s recipe, and that’s what she uses. Lots of other friends from that area use Tony’s too. Some use Zatarains. Some make up their own. ~Elise

  15. Vanessa

    Oh when the Saints…
    My husband and I met in college in NOLA, so we’re pumped about the Superbowl this weekend. I made this recipe for the NFC clenching game and it was great. I did some editing due to time: I didn’t use 3 bell peppers, just 1 red and green instead. I omitted shrimp as it turns out I may have developed an allergy. Also, no tabasco sauce. I am a whimp. It was still so good! All the leftovers were gobbled up, everyone went back for seconds. I am going to make it with some green beans this time as a side. Friends are bringing over Abita Beer and corn bread. I also ordered a King Cake. We’re all set for this historic Super Bowl!

  16. Rachel

    Thank you AntBea I’m glad someone knows the difference between Creole and Cajun Jambalya. I’m a huge fan of Creole Jamabalya and can’t wait to try this one!

  17. RD

    I’ve had my eye on this recipe for some time (bought the Tony Chachere’s jambalaya mix a few of months ago in anticipation of making this at some point) and decided to make it yesterday for our Christmas Eve dinner. I used a 2 lb bag of frozen 31-40 count ez-peel shrimp. Fresh shrimp is harder to find here in the SF Bay Area then than the Gulf coast I’m sure.

    As suggested I started the prep work around 3 pm so I could work at a leisurely pace. Pretty much followed the recipe as written using 1 tsp of Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning – might add another 1/2 tsp the next time I make it. During the hour-long cooking time I stirred it every 10 minutes or so and added a little more water or chicken broth. I partially covered the pot for the last 30 minutes of cooking. I saved the unused tomatoes and sauce to make a simple pasta sauce later in the week.

    Served it with cornbread and salad. Outstanding!

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