Like several of Louisiana’s iconic dishes, jambalaya can be made in the style of either Creole or Cajun cuisine. A typical Creole version of this hearty rice dish includes tomatoes, ham and shrimp. Cajun jambalaya, also called brown jambalaya, is typically meatier with ingredients like chicken and smoked sausage. Both versions include a flavorful mix of herbs and spices such as garlic, thyme, bay leaf, paprika and cayenne.
Melt a small amount of butter over medium heat in a heavy pot. There should be enough melted butter to lightly coat the bottom of the pan.
Cook chopped onion, bell peppers, celery and ham in the melted butter for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften. For each serving, use about 1/4 cup of each vegetable and about 1 tablespoon of chopped ham.
Add 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes per serving, and cook them with the other ingredients for about 5 minutes to break the tomatoes down.
Stir in 1/4 cup long-grain rice, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, 1/4 teaspoon paprika and a pinch of cayenne per serving. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Add 1 cup per serving of shrimp, chicken or vegetable stock, along with a bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and let the jambalaya simmer for about 20 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Stir in about 1/4 pound of peeled and deveined shrimp per serving. Cook the jambalaya for another 5 to 10 minutes, until both the shrimp and the rice are fully cooked. For the best flavor and texture, rest the jambalaya off the heat, covered, for another 10 minutes before serving.
Heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat.
Add about 1 tablespoon per serving of chopped tasso or bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the fat renders out and the meat starts to brown.
Stir in sliced andouille sausage – or another smoked pork sausage – along with chopped onions, celery and bell peppers. Use about 1/4 pound of sausage and 1/4 cup of each vegetable per serving.
Cook the sausage and vegetables for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until everything lightly browns and the vegetables are tender.
Stir in 1/4 pound chopped boneless chicken, 1/4 cup long-grain rice, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, 1/4 teaspoon paprika and a pinch of cayenne per serving. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Add 1 cup of chicken stock per serving, along with a bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Let the jambalaya simmer for about 25 minutes, until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. For the best flavor and texture, rest the jambalaya off the heat, covered, for another 10 minutes before serving.