Dec 7, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Quick and Easy Jambalaya

This is the month of glad tidings, great joy and sugar plum dreams.  It's also an incredibly busy month, when dinnertime is frequently tested by extra-curricular activities.  Jambalaya is colorful, flavorful and highly adaptable to our hectic schedules.  Here's my rendition (because everybody has their own idea of what jambalaya should taste like.)

You can have it on the table in under 30 minutes from start to finish, or place it on the back burner and let it simmer for an hour or two.  Need more flexibility?  Double the recipe to feed a crowd, and feel free to scale back the shrimp (or substitute cooked shredded chicken for some or all) if your family isn't big on skrimps.

Quick and Easy Jambalaya

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound Polish sausage (I use turkey sausage and it's awesome), sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1-2 pounds frozen raw shrimp, peeled and deveined(can substitute cooked chicken for all or part)
1/2 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 red or green pepper, diced into small chunks
1 can (16 ounces) diced tomatoes (I used Italian style with basil and garlic), undrained
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste
chicken broth*
1 cup uncooked rice*

In a large heavy pan or 5-6 quart Dutch oven, heat oil and saute sausage just until it starts to brown a little.  Add onion and celery; cook for a few minutes until onion begins to soften. Add diced pepper, shrimp/chicken, tomatoes and seasoning.

Option 1 (Creole style):  Add one cup chicken broth; bring to a boil and add 1 cup rice.  Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender. Add a little more broth if it seems gummy; serve.

Option 2 ("White Jambalaya"):  Add 1/2 cup chicken broth; allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or as long as two hours; add broth if it gets too thick. (You could also transfer the sauteed sausage, onions and celery to a slow cooker, then combine all other ingredients as above and cook for 3-4 hours on low.) Before serving, cook rice separately according to package directions and add to the jambalaya, stirring to incorporate.

Makes 4-5 generous main dish bowls, or 6-8 servings as a side dish or first course.  Serve with hot sauce for those who want to crank up the heat, and a basket of warm and crispy French bread for sopping up the juice.

Happy cooking!

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