So remember on Monday when I was complaining about how hot it is here and how I was going to be posting cool, no-cook recipes? Well, when that didn’t work for me, I decided to fight fire with fire. And so we’re getting Jambalaya.

Before I moved here, I knew that like Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya was standard Louisiana fare, but I’d never had it. And like most Cajun and Creole comfort foods, it somehow manages to use inexpensive, standard fridge and pantry ingredients while still being unbelievably delicious. In fact, I call this my “Hey, I’m cleaning out the fridge!” meal because it uses up all those odds and ends I never got a chance to use and it’s still probably one of my family’s favorite meals! In fact, if I were a betting gal, I would say if you’ve tried our Red Beans and Rice and liked ’em, you’ll like this even better.
I adapted this recipe from my new favorite cookbook. The first time I made it nearly as directed (I cut the meat in half) and while it was delicious, it was also way too hot for us. My husband also felt like the meat-to-rice ratio was too high (go figure that Mr. Meatman thought there was too much meat, especially after I had already halved it!) The second time around, I cut back on the meat even more, but I felt that because the dish gets so much flavor from the sausage, the flavor definitely suffered.
Finally, I made two significant changes (just call me Alton Brown with all my kitchen experiments here!) First, I went back to the amount of meat I used the first time, but I processed it in my food processor so the chunks of meat weren’t so overwhelming. Not only did it help with the meat-to-rice ratio problem, but it also distributed the flavor a little more thoroughly. Secondly, instead of using Andouille sausage, I substituted a high-quality Louisiana-style smoked sausage that was more on the mild side. That way, I could control the heat with Creole or Cajun seasoning and salt instead of being at the mercy of the Andouille manufacturer and how hot they decide to make their sausage.
This is just one of those recipes that you need to make before you die. It can be served as a side dish, but really, it’s meant to be a main dish. It’s one of those rustic meals that somehow manages to be homey and yet could be served for company at the same time. Just make sure you use a really great smoked sausage (no Hillshire Farms or Johnsonville here–look for something a little more local) and you’ll be good to go.
Our Best Bites
2 1/2 c. white rice
5 c. water
2-3 Tbsp. butter
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
A lot of garlic (probably 5-6 cloves), minced
1/2 lb. high-quality smoked sausage(approximately; you can actually use a little less if you buy, say, a 14-oz. package of sausage)
1/2 lb. ham (you can also substitute leftover fauxtisserie chicken, shrimp, or other shellfish; however, you’ll also need to compensate for the smokey flavor and the salt from the ham, so be prepared with liquid smoke and salt to taste. And you’ll want it to have a distinct smokey flavor.)
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (you could use another Cajun or Creole seasoning, but this brand is widely accessible and cheap) to taste
Combine rice and water in a medium-large saucepan and cover with lid. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Remove from heat and allow to stand an additional five minutes.
While rice is cooking, finely chop sausage and ham (in your food processor if you have one)
and set aside. Melt butter over medium heat in a very large skillet. When butter is hot and bubbly, add onion, green onions, green pepper, and celery and cook until tender. Add chopped meat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce and then add cooked rice. Now start seasoning with the Cajun seasoning. It’s hot, I won’t lie, so if you find that it’s getting spicy enough for your taste but it’s still not salty enough, leave the Cajun seasoning alone and just finish seasoning it with Kosher salt. Cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring frequently. Serve and enjoy! And be sure to save some leftovers–it tastes even better the next day!

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