Southern Stylings


February 28, 2017

I’ve had many requests for a good home-cook version of jambalaya, and this is that. Like the dish itself,  a mix of Spanish and French ingredients with African thrown in by way of the Louisiana bayou, the word jambalaya derives from Provencal for “mish-mash”.  But I love that the Atakapa–a native American people who lived in the river valleys of Louisiana along the Gulf of Mexico–had a phrase: “Sham, pal ha! Ya!” which meant “Be full, not skinny! Eat Up!” that etymologysts say Spaniards changed to “jambalaia.”  The dish includes a Cajun or Creole version of the Spanish sofrito (tomatoes, garlic, oil and onions) at its base, along with spices, seafood, sausage, sometimes poultry and always rice. What’s atypical about it is we’ve cooked the rice separately to preserve the fluffiness of the grains, and, to allow diners to choose how much of the beautiful stew to top it with. (Leftovers also hold better if you keep the rice and stew separate.) Also? I’ve included fresh okra, rather than green peppers for the flavor and color pop– a personal preference.



    Spice blend:
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves, snipped fine
  • 1 tsp fresh basil leaves, snipped fine
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 Tbsp each, onion powder and garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp finely ground sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh-cracked black pepper
    For sausage:
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds andouille sausage links, sliced on bias into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 1/2 pounds chorizo sausage, in casing
  • 1/2 cup water
    For sofrito:
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 whole head garlic; all cloves peeled and minced
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and chopped to medium dice
  • 3 ribs celery, cleaned and chopped to medium dice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian passata (fresh tomato puree) OR canned low-sodium tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • To taste: 1 to 2 tsp hot sauce: 1 to 2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
    For shrimp:
  • 2 pounds fresh, headless, tail-on shrimp, shells removed
    For rice:
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Water, as needed according to rice package instructions
    For okra:
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cups fresh okra, tops and tips trimmed and discarded, okra sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
  • 3 green onions, sliced fine on the bias
  • Hot sauce to taste


  1. Make spice blend: Combine all spice blend ingredients in bowl. Set aside
  2. Make sausage: In heavy skillet over medium heat, brown andouille sausage slices 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a platter. Set aside. In same skillet over medium heat, add the chorizo sausage, leaving it in casing. Add water. Cover skillet and steam sausage 10 minutes until done. Discard water. Cool chorizo. Remove casing from chorizo and crumble into large chunks into a bowl. Set aside. Wipe out skillet.
  3. Prepare sofrito: In the same skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chopped onion, garlic and celery. Saute until beginning to soften. Add spice blend. Saute one more minute. Reduce heat to low, add water and tomato puree and bay leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add shrimp. Simmer another 10 minutes until shrimp is cooked through. Add hot sauce and Worchestershire sauce to taste. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add reserved andouille and chorizo. Turn off heat. Set aside, covered.
  4. Prepare okra: In medium skillet, warm olive oil and cook okra until bright green, tender but firm. Stir into reserved jambalaya stew.
  5. Make rice: Add rice and oil with water (amount specified on rice package) to rice cooker or pot. Follow rice package directions to prepare rice to doneness. Fluff rice with fork.
  6. To serve: Spoon jambalaya stew over servings of rice; sprinkle with green onion. Serve with hot sauce.

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  • Reply Anita Wolff February 28, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    BASED on a recipe from the old Time-Life regional American cookbooks, try adding a very little ground cloves or allspice to your jambalaya next time. It adds an elusive but welcome warm spice note. That recipe also recommends cooking the rice separately.
    In Chicago, get great andouille, and also tasso, from the Paulina Market on Lincoln Avenue, made in house.

    • Reply Monica Rogers March 1, 2017 at 2:31 am

      Hi Anita 🙂
      Yes! good suggestions, thanks, and Happy Fat Tuesday!

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