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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 1

Last summer, while waiting for my gumbo to finish cooking, I happened to catch my friend online. Since he's from New Orleans, I figured I could ask him about the differences between gumbo and jambalaya. I often confuse the two. Well, after this conversation, I've never again said the two dishes were the same thing.


WC: if i scoop out some gumbo and cook the rice in the it. does that make it jambalaya? :)

Friend: far from it
Friend: they are made from different things

: haha. but it's all the same ingredients

: no

: really? all the recipes online have the same ingredients

Friend: if it's the same ingredients you're doing it wrong
Friend: they are freaking crackheads

WC: my gumbo was made with sausage, chicken, shrimp, onion, bell pepper, fennel (b/c celery was $2 each), tomatoes and okra.
WC: seasoned with Bay seasoning, cayenne, thyme, bay leaves
WC: no tabasco so i used sriracha

Friend: http://www.gumboshop.com/cookbook/cookbook.asp
Friend: order gumbo cookbook here
Friend: where'd you get the roux?

WC: 1/2 stick butter, 2 tblsp flour

Friend: and don't put tuong ot in place of hot sauce

WC: haha

Friend: that's just naughty

WC: such a purist

Friend: no lard or pork fat for your roux will knock you down a notch
Friend: but butter's ok

WC: you'd shun me if i went healthy and used olive oil huh?

Friend: boy would i

WC: so is that gumbo ok?
WC: for the most part?

Friend: it will do

WC: so what's in jambalaya then?

Friend: but jambalaya is made of different business altogether
Friend: no bay leaf
Friend: no okra
Friend: no celery
Friend: few ingredients in common
Friend: some retards put celery in their jambalaya
Friend: but i shun them
Friend: jambalaya has to have tomatoes
Friend: and should have andouille
Friend: and tasso
Friend: and probably about a third of a cayenne pepper

WC: so i just pick out the okra and celery and i'm good? hehe

Friend: no
Friend: tomato is the principal ingredient
Friend: for the jambalaya sauce

WC: meaning it should be very red?
WC: what about bell peppers?

Friend: no
Friend: bell peppers are no good
Friend: not the proper flavor

WC: i put tomatoes in gumbo. i like it!

Friend: it's canh chua
Friend: not gumbo

WC: canh chua gumbo

Friend: okra=gumbo
Friend: jambalaya=jamon=pig=tasso ham

WC: shrimp?
WC: so jambalaya, roux, onions, tomatoes, ham. can i do sausage?

Friend: http://www.gumbopages.com/food/tasso.html
Friend: jambalaya has no roux

WC: so just saute onions and tomatoes and ham, then add rice and broth?

Friend: "First, meat is added, usually chicken and sausage such as andouille or smoked sausage. Then, vegetables and tomatoes are added to cook, then seafood. Rice and stock are added in equal proportions at the very end. The mix is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 20-60 minutes, depending on the recipe, with infrequent stirring. Towards the end of the cooking process, stirring usually ceases."
Friend: :)
Friend: too luoi [lazy in Vietnamese] to type this stuff out

WC: haha
WC: ok.

Friend: i put tasso in mine
Friend: so do most good cajuns
Friend: order some
Friend: it's like 4 bucks online

WC: i'm not cajun

Friend: they mail it to you
Friend: you eat cajun
Friend: you want cajun

WC: i'll do ham

Friend: an inadequate substitute

WC: i'm not from nawlins. i'm not a purist

Friend: ay ay ay
Friend: then you're just eating com chien

WC: just like my gumbo has tomatoes

Friend: and canh chua
Friend: ay
Friend: stop
Friend: you're going to make me nervous

WC: well, if you were here, you could have made it correctly for me. too bad

Friend: well yes
Friend: but were the tables reversed
Friend: the opposite would be true
Friend: my efforts at vietnamese cooking would bring shame to my ancestors

WC: haha
WC: but you're not cajun anyway
WC: or creole

Friend: i can cook it though

WC: i guess i'll just have to make jambalaya and clear up all that misinformation

Friend: in emergencies one could theoretically put in a spot of red bell pepper
Friend: but these silly bastards can't be trusted
Friend: perhaps you will one day get to the bottom of it all


So finally, to "clear up" any confusion for the purists, I present my interpretation of my friend's version of what a proper jambalaya entails. Well, except, I still didn't have any tasso ham or andouille sausage. Ha! ;)

According to Wikipedia, Creole red jambalaya was invented in the French Quarter of New Orleans as a way for the Spanish residents to recreate paella, substituting tomatoes for saffron. Cajun brown jambalaya arose out of the swamps where crawfish, shrimp, duck, alligator, and other game meat was added. No tomatoes are used and the meat is browned, hence the name.

As for the "Holy Trinity" of onions, celery, and bell peppers that are ubiquitous in New Orleans cooking, I leave that up for debate. I opted to stick with my friend's advice about tomatoes being the primary vegetable flavor and added red bell pepper since my friend said I could "theoretically put in a spot." :P

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 2

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage

For about 6 to 8 servings, you'll need:

1 lb Andouille sausage, or substitute with Louisiana hot sausage or a smoked sausage of your choice, cut into 1/4-inch coins
1/2 lb Tasso or regular ham, diced
1/2 lb chicken boneless breasts or thighs, diced
2 cups uncooked rice
3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can diced or whole tomatoes or 6 fresh tomatoes, diced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp or more Tabasco sauce

Cut and dice all vegetables and meats. Set aside.

In a large saute pan on medium-high heat, saute the sausage. As you can tell, I used Louisiana hot sausage and Italian spicy ground sausage.

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 3

When the meat is lightly browned, add diced chicken, onion, garlic, and 2 cups dry rice. Saute until the rice grains become coated in the meat juices and the onions are translucent.

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 4

Sauteing the rice is similar to my method for risotto, so that the rice can absorb more of the meat flavors.

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 5

Add a 28-oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes, including liquid, or dice 6 small fresh tomatoes. Add 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp thyme, and 2 tsp or more of Tabasco sauce. Stir to mix everything evenly.

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 6

Then add about 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, just until the rice is covered.

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 7

Cover and let simmer on medium-low heat for about 45 minutes, checking halfway through to see if more broth is needed.

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 8

I tend to cook late at night when all the world is silent and I don't feel so rushed. Unfortunately, I also have a tendency to cook in large quantities. So when I noticed that Tony of SinoSoul and his better half were still out and about at this late hour, I invited them over for some jambalaya.


Of course.

Better yet, Tony offered to take photos for me.

What struck me as I finally got around to posting this recipe is how my cooking and photography skills have improved because of the blog. The first time I attempted jambalaya was October 2007. Instead of sausages, I used leftover hot dogs I got from Hoffy's. This time, I used Emeril's all natural organic vegetable stock that I got from Foodbuzz. I still use what ingredients I have on hand, and it's still supplemented by what I get to sample. For the record, the Emeril's stock tasted a bit yeasty, but was fine when cooked in the jambalaya.

And of course, I have since learned that I can't just add rice to gumbo and call it jambalaya. ;)

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 9

So in June 2008, I made jambalaya again. This time with smoked sausage and ham. The photo was alright, but I think the angle and plating could have been better. What can I say? I'm a Libra, I like things centered.

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 10

And last night, I think I finally got the recipe and the photo the way I like it. Although, darn it. Why doesn't my camera perform as nicely when I'm the one behind it? Thanks for making my food look good, Tony! He's not a purist either, asking for Huy Fong's Tuong Ot Sriracha hot sauce to put on his jambalaya too. Haha. I think my friend would shudder if I told him that.

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 11

So what's a "proper" jambalaya to you?


Some of my other American Southern recipes:
Buttermilk Biscuits
Cajun Vietnamese Shrimp Boil
Fried Green Tomatoes
Faux Beignets
Okra and Tomatoes
Southern Baked Beans
Southern Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy and Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

1 year ago today, The Cravery - Tustin (Closed) and Live on the Go redux.
2 years ago today, Tri-Colored Crostinis with Arugula Pesto, Bruschetta al Pomodoro, and Squash Blossom Ricotta.


  1. oooo! all pix turned out NICE. I should start carrying extra lamps to restaurants!

    Tell your friend I like my jambalaya spicy and sour, hence the 2 hot sauces (spicy and sour). Plus, you forgot you pictorialized with.. *gasp* PARSLEY. ZOMG, that dude's gonna die!

    Btw, the weight of the pan threw me off. I almost dropped it.

  2. I'm not a huge fan of Cajun or Creole cooking, but I love your recipes and am willing to give this one a try. It's a "consider the source" thing with me :-). I was tickled to learn about your attraction to Bellingham and the San Juans.

  3. Anything spicy with lots of sausage, chicken, shrimp, bell peppers and tomatoes sound like jambalaya to me!

  4. Yummmmm! This looks fantastic, WC, esp the new photos. If you're shooting at night, you're doing great with the white balance. I always worry that cooking chicken this way will result in a tough and dry texture. How was it for you?

  5. I like the disdain in your friend's voice, teehee. =D

  6. mmm - jambalaya! I'm gonna cook that (eventually!) I am completely unsure on what the difference is and I doubt I've ever eaten any 'authentic' jambalaya but this looks fabulous!

  7. All of the photos are great! I have this obsession with everything being front and center too but I am experimenting :). I think your friend would be angry to see any jumbalaya pasta, especially the one I had weeks ago at the Clubhouse at Costa Mesa! It had bell peppers...

  8. Tony,
    They turned out niiiice thanks to you! I'll gladly keep feeding you and the missus if you take my photos for me. :)

    Aww, that's so sweet! I'm so flattered you would try something you dislike based upon my version.

    Bellingham was pretty & my immediate boss was really awesome, but the job just didn't pay very well so I had to turn it down.

    Evidently, you're not a purist either. :P

    Not me. Credit goes to SinoSoul. I've got two lamps with daylight bulbs and paper taped over them. Seems to work OK.

    That's why I added the chicken later with the onions instead of in the beginning with the sausage. So it doesn't get dry and overcooked.

    I love the disdain in his tone. I chuckle every time I reread the conversation.

    Haha. Since you're not American, I think it's perfectly OK. Besides, authenticity is in the eye of the beholder.

    Oh, the pasta would have made my friend horrified. Should be rice! ;)

  9. good looking Jambalaya, I am from New Orleans born and raise. I am also Viet. I agree with most of what your friend told you, but also disagree on a few things. I put bay leaf in my jambalaya, and bay leaf. There are creole and cajun jambalaya. The cajun one doesn't have tomatoes. Same goes for gumbo. What kind of rice did you sue for your jamabalaya? Try using converted rice or even uncle bens and it will result to a better jamabalaya.

  10. oh yea I use bell pepper too, almost all savory dishes in Louisiana require the trinity(onions, celery, bell pepper) and the food is not spicy like most people think

  11. Ah, this is what I missed out on that night? If I weren't sick and jetlagged and in WW I would've come down for some jambalaya :( Make it again for me hehe.
    Gumbo has rice in it too right? Although not cooked in the broth I guess, just dumped in after?

  12. I'm a Cajun who's lived in New Orleans for nearly 20 years. That looks like a fine Creole Jambalaya.

    Cajun Jambalaya, to me, is sort of a Cajun version of fried rice, in that you can make it with different ingredients - beef, pork, seafood, alligator, crawfish, whatever. The important thing is some kind of spicy smoked sausage plus whatever other meat you're using. The main difference between the two is the tomatoes, and Creole/New Orleans style tends to be seasoned with allspice and bay leaf and you don't see that in the Cajun version.

    Bell pepper is fine in jambalaya, almost everyone I know uses peppers, and a lot of people use a seasoning mix you can buy in the produce department at grocery stores that has onions, garlic, peppers, parsley, and yes, a bit of celery.

    I don't use it because I don't like celery. I use onion, garlic, and whatever peppers I have on hand. If I have cayenne peppers, I will use a fresh one. If not, I use bell pepper, poblano, serrano, etc, and add cayenne powder for heat. Parsley is also fine, usually sprinkled over the top of things when served.

    I do NOT condone the use of converted rice. A lot of restaurants here use it because it cooks quickly and reliably, but no one I know uses it at home, and personally, I think it's got a nasty starchy chemically flavor and I don't like it. We use long, medium, or short grain white rice.

    BTW, I happen to like Sriracha sauce on jambalaya. It goes great with a lot of Cajun and Creole dishes and I think most Cajuns don't know about it, or they'd use it. I got my uncle the huy fong chili garlic sauce, and he loved it. :)

  13. Truxvtxboi,
    Uncle Ben's no way! This whole post is totally tongue-in-cheek. I am not a purist when it comes to cooking and adding one or two ingredients here and there is perfectly fine with me. But apparently, people really get into this debate.

    Plenty of other dishes for you to eat. Gumbo is served on top of rice, or some people do add it to the soup, but it's a stew and not a rice dish like jambalaya.

    I saw some people mention adding a can of cream of mushroom soup to Cajun brown jambalaya. What do you think of that? I actually think it'd be pretty good!

  14. I tried this the other day and it was quite tasty - though I added a lot more hot sauce, and I didn't have any andouille sausage so I just subbed chorizo. No doubt that would offend your jambalaya purist, but I thought it was good!

  15. Very tasty. I tried the recipe for the first time today. I would probably reduce the broth the next time I cook this, because somehow mine came out a little to wet. But from flavor and aroma standpoint... I don't have to go to the restaurant to enjoy jambalaya.

    THANK YOU!!!

  16. 6p00e54fe47ea98834,
    Ha! I managed to type all that in correctly. Shh! We won't tell my friend you used chorizo. ;)

    Hmm. Guess it depends on what kind of rice you used? It does soak up more liquid after it sits though.

  17. Mmm, mmmm! Very filling and delicious!


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