CEiMB: Jambalaya with Shrimp and Sausage
I have yet to find a Cajun dish I dislike (though I will admit to not having yet been brave enough to try crawfish). My favorite is probably gumbo, which I have yet to master, but jambalaya is a close second. I’ve tried a few different recipes but typically end up using a pre-packaged box mix so I was really excited about testing out Ellie Krieger’s recipe for this week’s CEiMB recipe, hosted by Anonymous in New York.
Ironically, as I write this, the jambalaya episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay is on Food Network. I have to be brutally honest here: Ellie’s recipe would not win if entered into this competition. It was OK, but nothing amazing. Right off the bat, I took issue with the recipe. Ryan is not a fan of ham so I substituted turkey kielbasa in its place which was an easy and delicious fix. Then I realized that celery, one-third of the traditional trinity, was no where on the ingredient list. I thought this was an odd omission but trusted Ellie to steer me in the right direction. In the end, the missing celery probably didn’t hurt the flavor, but I’m sure it would have added a nice crunch and punch of freshness to the recipe. My biggest complaint is that it was a little bland. In contrast to some of the other reviews I read, I actually thought the dish had a good level of heat but lacked overall flavor. I would probably add more herbs and a spicier sausage next time.
I’m also not sure the recipe called for enough liquid as my rice was quite chewy. I tried adding more stock, extending the cook time, and adjusting the temperature, but nothing worked. Bobby Flay was having the same problem, and the competitor, Emile Stieffel, told Bobby he needed to stop lifting the lid off his pot while letting the rice cook. I am really bad about doing this, even with the CrockPot. I want to see what’s going on inside, and I feel the need to stir things at least a couple times while they’re cooking. I feel better about it knowing I’m in good company with Bobby Flay, but it’s obviously something I need to work on. I’m pretty sure that must be why my rice wasn’t fully cooked (neither was Bobby’s), so be sure you leave the lid securely planted on top of your pot for the full 20 minutes while the rice is cooking!
As an aside, I have to share a little anecdote from my jambalaya cooking experience. Since there is some down-time between steps, I was trying to be all professional chef-like and get my ingredients prepped before they were needed. The list of spices that go into this dish is pretty lengthy, so I got out a small glass prep bowl and measured all the spices into it. In that moment, I felt like Rachael Ray. I would even go so far as to say, I was a little cocky about it. “Look at me, I have a fancy little glass prep bowl full of spices.” Yeah. Don’t you just know I knocked that flippin’ bowl onto the floor and had spices all over my counter, cabinets, and kitchen floor. There is nothing like trying to sop up every last bit of jambalaya seasoning off the kitchen floor so the four-legged family members don’t lick it up and get upset stomachs to really keep a girl humble. Trust me cooking gods, I will not be so quick to get a big ego in the future… nor will I waste my time with glass prep bowls ever again.
Jambalaya with Shrimp and Sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium bell peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
7 ounces turkey kielbasa
2 ½ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
14 ounces diced tomatoes
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 pound shrimp
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over a medium heat. Add the onion, peppers and garlic and saute until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Mix in the next 11 ingredients, salt through the diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until rice is done and most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the shrimp and cook, covered, for 5 minutes more, or until shrimp is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with hot pepper sauce.
Source: Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life”, p. 236
4 servings | 9 POINTS