There are a wide variety of ways to make Cajun Jambalaya, with chicken and sausage, or shrimp, or ham, or even duck or alligator. Some involve tomatoes and tomato sauce, some use chicken or beef stock instead. This first one uses both tomatoes and chicken stock, and is a New Orleans Creole-style “red” jambalaya, as opposed to one made with only stock, a more Cajun-style “brown” jambalaya. By the way, it’s pronounced <jahm-buh-LIE-uh> or <jum-buh-LIE-uh>. The Dictionary of American Food and Drink states that the dish was born late one night when a traveler arrived at a New Orleans Inn long after dinner had been served. According to the story, the inn’s cook, a man named Jean, was told to “balayez”, or “throw something together” to feed the man. The results were delicious and the name later evolved to “Jambalaya”.
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
100g chorizo (we like picante)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 slender celery sticks, cut into 1cm slices
2 small green peppers, deseeded and cut into 2cm chunks
5 large ripe vine tomatoes (about 475g)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
200g long-grain rice (we often use the easy-cook version)
450ml chicken stock, made with 1 chicken stock cube
100g cooked peeled king prawns, thawed if frozen
6 spring onions, sliced (including lots of green)
ﬂaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces, removing any excess fat, and season them with salt and pepper. Skin the sausage and cut it into 5mm slices. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or non-stick sauté pan and fry the chicken for 3 minutes over a medium heat until lightly coloured. Add the chorizo and cook for 30 seconds more, then transfer the chicken and chorizo with tongs to a large plate or tray. Tip most of the oil out of the frying pan and chuck it away. Return the empty pan to the heat and turn the heat down to low. Stir in the onion, celery and green peppers and cook for 8–10 minutes until well softened, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, skin the tomatoes – see our top tip. Cut them in half and remove the green stem ends, then roughly chop the rest of the ﬂesh – no need to deseed. Stir the crushed garlic, paprika, cayenne, thyme, oregano and bay leaves into the frying pan and cook for 20–30 seconds, stirring. Increase the heat and add the chopped tomatoes and any juice that has collected on the board. Cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are well softened, stirring regularly.
Return the chicken and chorizo to the pan, add the rice and cook for about a minute, stirring. Pour over the stock, season with a pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes or until the rice is just tender and most of the liquid has evaporated or been absorbed by the rice, stirring occasionally. The rice should still be pretty saucy at this point, so if your rice takes longer to cook, you may need to add a little more stock. Stir in the prawns and spring onions and cook for about 2 minutes more or until the prawns are hot, stirring regularly, then serve this lovely Cajun Jambalaya.