Simple Jambalaya Stew

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Are you sick of turkey, maybe not ready for chicken, but it’s cold outside? Maybe something completely different is in order? And it’s still really cold out?

One of my favorite bad day “anywhere but here” fantasies involves the story my friend Jodi and I like to tell about our future retirement to New Orleans, where it is not cold (no matter what your definition of “cold” is, it’s usually warmer down there in the winter), where we’ll sit on the porch of the pink house and yell at squirrels and kids to get off the lawn. And we will eat. For all the croissants and beignets I can’t eat, there are plenty of shrimp that I can (aren’t we always pretty grateful for the food allergies we don’t have?). If you do have a shellfish allergy, consider substituting cooked chicken for the shrimp, adding it at the end and just heating it up.

This stew is warm enough to take off the chill of a long day spent outside in the raw New England winter (well, this stew and some indoor heat), so hopefully it’ll make your winter warmer, too. Short warning — This is NOT a true traditional New Orleanian jambalaya. This is my quick tossing together of the flavors that remind me of my visits to the city.

Simple Jambalaya (esque) Stew

Serves 5-6

  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 12 oz (2 links, one package) andouille sausage, links cut in half lengthwise and then sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups brown jasmati rice**
  • 5-7 cups chicken or vegetable stock**
  • 1 Tablespoon adobo spice mix
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 lb. shrimp, raw, peeled, deveined (see note)

Chop all the vegetables according to your likes — I like the flavor of onions and bell peppers, but in this dish, I don’t want to  taste a chunk of either at any time, so I dice those small. However, I want the crunch and flavor of celery, so I chop that in rather large pieces. I want the very flavorful sausage to flavor the entire dish, so I want them slightly smaller than the shrimp will be when cooked, and I leave the shrimp whole (but take off the tails because I don’t like to fuss — do what works for you). Try this, and then adjust it to suit your tastes.

In a large stockpot, over medium heat, add oil and heat until shimmery hot. Add onions and salt, saute for a few minutes. Add bell pepper, stir, and again saute a few minutes. Add the celery and sausage, stir in well, then add the rice and mix to make sure it’s well-coated with the oil and vegetables. Add the chicken stock.

**You will need to adjust the amount of stock based on the rice you choose. I prefer a brown rice in this, but I’m pretty sure that white rice would be more traditional. I used a jasmati blend (a cross of jasmine and basmati rices) because I had it on hand. It was pretty good. You want enough broth to fully cook the rice, and then a few extra cups for a good soupy finish.

Bring the mixture to a boil and add the adobo, tomato paste, and sherry, turning down the heat to simmer over low for 30 minutes. Check to see if the rice is cooked. If it is, add the shrimp, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let it sit covered for 15 minutes while the shrimp cooks. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

NOTE: If you do have a shellfish allergy, consider substituting chicken or leaving the shrimp out all together. The flavors will still be great.

To reheat, go low and slow. In a large and flat saucepan, heat over low until its hot. In a microwave, short bursts and frequent stirring work best. You don’t want to overcook the shrimp, so low and slow.

Jambalaya Stew
Jambalaya Stew

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