Jambalaya always brings to mind the Carpenters song; Jambalaya (On the Bayou) Not a Carpenters song but a dish traditionally made in one pot, with meats and vegetables. It is completed by adding stock and rice. Looking at various recipes in more detail, this strikes me now as a typical left-over dish. Cooking up what you have around at the time.
Making it your own recipe
When I made this for the first time, not having the slightest idea what jambalaya was, it looked quite complex, however, having made it many times now I now think it is probably one of the easiest recipes around. It is also a brilliant recipe to adapt to your own personal taste. It is also the ideal 'fridge cleaner' to sue up all those odd that you have lying around.
Just follow a few basic steps and you will be able to make you own version of this recipe.
- Rinse the rice in cold running water first.
- Fry the onions, garlic and vegetables first, plus any meat that might need more cooking than the rice does.
- Ensure the rice is well coated in the oil before adding any stock.
- Measure the stock by doubling the volume of the rice (4 cups of water to 2 cups of rice, etc.)
- Don't add all of the stock at once, add more if it looks as though it will dry out before the rice is done.
- If you have ingredients that don't need much cooking (prawns etc.) or vegetables that you want to serve with a bit of a crunch then add them during the last five minutes of cooking.
- 1 x 2kg (4 lb) chicken, parson's nose removed
- A few bay leaves
- 1 onion, unpeeled, chopped into quarters
- About 200 g from one or more of the following cooked meats:
- * Cooked ham
- * 1 chorizo sausage, peeled and roughly chopped
- * Sliced, cooked belly pork
- * Roughly sliced bacon, could be uncooked if thin enough
- 40 g (1 ½ oz) butter, ghee or olive oil
- 4 to 7 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 6 spring onions, chopped on the diagonal
- 2 sticks of celery, 'strings' removed with a mandoline and chopped into moons
- 3 or 4 sweet bell peppers, any colour, deseeded and chopped
- 3 teaspoons paprika powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano or dried mixed herbs
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped, if available
- 1 large can plum tomatoes, chopped
- 500ml to 600 ml of the water the chicken was boiled in
- 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
- Chillies, chilli sauce or chilli powder to add warmth, not heat.
- * I used: 1 teaspoon chilli guajillo (powder), 2 teaspoons pasilla chilli (diced), 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chillies (diced)
- * Suggested alternative if using sauce: 1 to 2 tablespoons Louisiana hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 400 g (14 oz) basmati rice (long grain rice)
- Finely chopped parsley
- Remove any giblets, cut off and discard the Parson's nose.
- Wash the chicken under cold running water, inside and out
- Place the chicken in a large pot and pour over just enough boiling water to cover
- Add the onion and the bay leaf and boil for about 1 hour or until tender
- Set the chicken to one side, reserve the stock and discard the bay leaf and onion quarters
- Once chicken has cooled discard skin and bone
- Heat the butter in a large pan and fry the garlic for a few minutes
- Add the ham, spring onions, celery and pepper and sautee for 5 minutes
- Rinse rice under cold running water for a few minutes until the water runs clear
- Add the rice and stir-fry for a minute so the grains are coated by the oil
- Add the stock (about 500 ml to start), tomatoes, spices, Worcester sauce, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper and chicken
- Stir well, cover and simmer on a very low hob until the liquid has gone and the rice is cooked. Add a little more water if it dries out before the rice is done.
I have doubled the rice quantity from the original recipe as there was so little rice. I have not quite doubled the stock quantity so keep an eye on the water level to ensure that it does not dry out.
The stock left from cooking the chicken is really good quality so whatever you don't use, freeze in bags or cups far later use.