What Is Jambalaya?

A classic Creole and Cajun comfort dish

What Is... Jambalaya?
Kristof de Loof

Jambalaya — even the name sounds like a party about to happen. And this big, easy, one-pot party dish from the Big Easy is full of flavor and doesn't require a ton of work. If you have a crowd to feed, and you don’t feel like doing a roast, then this might be just the dish to make.

This rice dish is reminiscent of Spanish paella in that its main flavoring component is oftentimes — you guessed it — sausage. Whereas paella takes on flavors of garlic and paprika with smoky chorizo, jambalaya takes on the heat of hot andouille, another type of pork sausage. But this isn’t a hard and fast rule — and that’s another trait this dish shares with paella — just about every cook has a slightly different version of it. In fact, that’s probably why there’s a jambalaya showdown every year in Gonzales, La., which proudly calls itself the "Jambalaya Capital of the World."

Typically, though, there will be onion, celery, green bell peppers (the "trinity" as Emeril Lagasse calls it), tomatoes, garlic, and just about any kind of meat or seafood nestled in the rice. Seasonings commonly include paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, dried oregano, and dried thyme. Whatever you decide to put into your jambalaya though, the method generally remains the same — most people start by browning the meat, then sauté the vegetables and add the broth. Tomatoes, spices, and rice are added to the mix, and cooked over low heat until the rice becomes tender. Seafood or any other meats which cook quickly are added toward the end.

So don’t wait any longer. In fact, you can almost hear the trombones in the distance. And when the big parade comes, you’d better be ready to feed them or they’ll be hooting and hollering in your ear until you do.

Click here to see Big Chef Kevin’s Jambalaya Recipe.


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