I have not always been the biggest vegetable fan. In fact there was a time that my early 20′s self would not even buy onions even if a recipe called for them. Now onions, garlic, celery, carrots, kale, green beans, and brussels sprouts are just a few of the many things that are constantly on my grocery list. In an effort to be more health conscious, I try to spend as much time perusing the fresh food areas as I do the entire rest of the store. Sometimes I get a little carried away, so sometimes… I make this jambalaya. I attribute my new appreciation for vegetables to living in the South. The growing season is so long here that there is always an abundance of beautiful fresh fruits and veggies. And I have learned that Southern cooking is not about fried foods, it’s not even about barbecue or butter or pie. It is all about the veggies.
Traditional southern cooks relied on a prolific harvest to feed their families. They also preserved these vegetables in many different ways so that they could eat all winter on what they grew in the summer. This is mind boggling and so inspirational. It seems like we are so disconnected from our food. Especially with all the chemicals, plastics, and genetic modifications our food seems to be experiencing these days. I don’t know what it means for our health or the future of our food. But I do know that many people used to survive in the South mostly on what they grew in their own garden. And when you get back to this, and approach your home cooking with seasonal, fresh, local produce… something amazing happens to your relationship with food.
I use Carolina Gold Rice in this Jambalaya. This is an heirloom rice that was actually near extinction. One honorable man brought it back to life. And it really makes this dish. If you want to learn more about the importance of this rice, do yourself a favor and watch Mind of a Chef with Sean Brock. You can really use whatever and as many vegetables as you want in this jambalaya. Cleanse your fridge at the end of the week after you’ve made all your planned meals. By all means use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. Add okra, corn, squash, or zucchini. I promise you will be delighted. Same principal goes for the meat. I like to add chicken, shrimp, and smoked turkey sausage to mine – in various combinations. But use what you have! And if you have creole seasoning, feel free to substitute for all the dried spices below with 2 tbsp of creole seasoning.
Vegetable Packed Jambalaya
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lb boneless chicken thighs, diced
1 lb smoked turkey sausage
10 sweet baby peppers or ~3 bell peppers of different colors
2 large onions, diced
2 jalapenos cored, seeded, and finely diced
4 stocks celery, chopped fine
2 tbsp minced garlic
14 oz can petite diced tomatoes (can sub crushed or diced)
4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 cups carolina gold rice
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
Mix together the spices for the creole seasoning in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken pieces, stirring occasionally until browned all over, ~7 minutes. Set aside.
Place 1 tbsp of butter into the pot. Add the onions, scraping the bottom of the pot to release the browned bits. Cook the onions for ~10 minutes until slightly brown.
Add the turkey sausage and half of the spice mix, toss with the onion until combined. Cook until the sausage is browned and the onions are tender, ~10 minutes.
Add the jalapeno, peppers, celery, garlic, and the other half of the spice mix. Cook, scraping up brown bits intermittently, until the peppers have softened, ~10 minutes.
Mix the chicken back in and the petite diced tomatoes with their juice. Add in the rice, chicken stock, worcestershire, and bay leaves. Bring this to a boil. Stir in the shrimp and cover with a lid. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until most of the liquid has absorbed. The rice should be tender.
Allow the pot to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Mix the jambalaya with a wooden spoon and taste, adjust seasoning as needed. Add hot sauce if you so desire.
This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.