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


June 18, 2009. recipes.


  1. Blair replied:

    You should def give crawfish a try…take it from a Louisiana girl! This recipe may be a good way to break yourself in:


  2. applec replied:

    We really enjoyed this dish. I’ll have to look at some other recipes for comparison as this was my first at Jambalaya.
    As for the rice not cooking, I think the time was off because I didn’t lift the lid and my rice STILL needed an extra 10 minutes (30 total).

  3. Cathy replied:

    Sorry you didn’t love this, and REALLY sorry about the spice bowl mishap. There is nothing worse than trying to get all ahead of the game and then having a kitchen mishap. We really liked the flavor in this one, but I’m certainly willing to experiment a little – I definitely want to add celery next time, and will use turkey keilbasa/sausage instead of ham for sure!

  4. Heather Damron replied:

    I used sausage too – but chicken andouille.
    This was SO good.
    Your picture is GREAT by the way. Jealous.

  5. peggy replied:

    I love your idea about celery! I think that would have added tremendously. Mine was okay, but nothing to write home about. I might or might not make this again. Sorry about your kitchen mishap!!

  6. Aggie replied:

    I have a hard time cooking rice right too…I usually use 1 can of chick broth to 1 cup rice and NOT take the lid off…that works for me…though it is very hard for me to not touch the lid!

    Yours looks great! I love cajun food too!

  7. nick replied:

    Funny, I knew how that spice bowl story was going to end before it did. The best laid plans… :)

    Try those crawfish they are ridiculously delicious (even the head sucking part which I am still not completely comfortable with). They are like tiny little lobsters – even though you get dirty and they are a lot of work, they are totally worth it.

  8. Sara replied:

    I agree that celery was a weird omission – why not celery?

    It looks really good, sorry to hear it wasn’t a favorite. And now that I think of it, I did add some extra chicken broth to the rice, but mine cooked up fairly quickly. It may have something to do with the type of white rice you used.

  9. Leslie replied:

    (Chiming in with the stock-adders)…Yup, I added quite a bit, but I assumed it was because I parboiled and was using stock from the freezer, so I wasn’t quite sure if it was enough since it was frozen solid. Your looks tasty, though I’m sorry it didn’t thrill you.

  10. Anonymous New York replied:

    Hi Liz, thanks for trying the recipe. I agree with everything you said! Celery is a strange omission especially because it is low in calories and part of the Holy Trinity of stews and gumbos. I also thought it was bland. I have another jambalaya recipe that I really like and it is much spicier. We usually use kielbasa and ham or chorizo as well as the shrimp. The extra fat gives the dish more flavor. I’ll try to remember to email you when I make it next. Thanks again for participating in my first CEIMB!

  11. Rachel in NC replied:

    You should try it with beef broth sometime instead of chicken…I use it in my jambalaya recipe and it is so much better.

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