Jambalaya seems like an undertaking, but when you understand that it’s really just a stew, created in the same spirit most stews are – using bits and bobs from the pantry, but that are specific-ish to the region – it’s not at all a daunting dish. It’s a favourite chez nous and I’ve made a gazillion variations on it in order to make best use of stuff I had around. I prefer it to chili by far (and have be known to take it to many a chili party and if you’ve never been to a chili party, then you have my condolences).


Here’s my standard recipe. It all goes together in about 45 minutes and comfortably serves six.

You need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 cooking onion, diced
  • A few cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 4-5 andouille or chorizo sausages (I use hot Italian in a pinch)
  • 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (breasts are also acceptable, but don’t bring as much flavour to the party)
  • 1 cup peeled, uncooked shrimp (put the shells away for bouillon!)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp of minced chipotles
  • 2 tbsp adobo (that’s just the sauce that chipotles come packed in)
  • 1 bottle of beer (nutty brown and amber beers are great, but you can also substitute the beer with water or more stock)
  • I can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of stock
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2-3 (depending upon how vegetably you like it) bell peppers (I typically only use red, yellow, or orange, but if you like green, giv’er), diced
  • 2 fresh jalepeños, minced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 cups cooked rice

You do:

  1. In a large pot over medium-low heat, toast the cumin and coriander until fragrant, but not smoking.
  2. Add the olive oil, onions, and smashed garlic.
  3. Once the onions are translucent, add the chicken (and the sausages, if they’re not the already cooked kind).
  4. Once cooked through, remove the chicken (and sausages, if necessary).
  5. Deglaze the pot with some beer.
  6. Add the tomatoes, stock, and the rest of the beer.
  7. Chop the chicken at the sausage into bite-sized pieces.
  8. Add the chicken, sausages, peppers, chipotles, adobo, and thyme to the pot.
  9. Let simmer over medium heat for half an hour.
  10. Add the jalepeños and shrimp and let simmer for 7-10 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through.
  11. Add the cilantro and serve over rice (possibly topped with more cilantro, if you’re a cilantro lover like me).

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