Jambalaya is one of my favorite things to cook when friends are coming over. It can be very good, if you take your time making it, it’s not difficult to make and it is inexpensive. Most food historians think that jambalaya came to us from Spanish paella, it is a bit of a leap, there are plenty of cultures that cook rice in a seasoned stock. Another example is French rice pilaf.
Basically, Jambalaya is rice cooked in a seasoned stock with a variety of vegetables and meats or sausage. The point is that it is all cooked together, and not separately, that way the ingredients hold hands, as some chefs say, and by sharing flavors, brings the dish together in a big way.
That’s how I made jambalaya for many years, but not anymore. Here is my basic recipe:
Melt butter in a saucepan, add garlic and cook until the garlic starts to brown, remove the garlic, and toss it. Add the raw rice and toast until the rice just starts to take on color. Remove the rice, add twice the amount of stock as rice and steam until tender, about 20 min. Set the rice aside.
Chop Conecuh sausage into big bite size chunks and brown in a deep, heavy pot until crispy, don’t take short cuts! Remove and set aside. Add roughly diced onions, bell peppers and jalapeno peppers and cook over medium heat until very tender. Shred a rotisserie chicken and add to the vegetables (shred the chicken in advance and add the bones to a pot of chicken stock for a much more flavorful stock). Add the rice and sausage, and quite a bit more stock and simmer until you have the consistency that you like. Serve with Valentia hot sauce.
Technically, by cooking the rice separately, it is no longer jambalaya, but I sure like it. There is just something about the buttery, garlicky rice that changes this dish into something really grand.