Born on the Bayou: Cajun Brown Jambalaya

In November 1984 I was born along the Bayou Teche in the tiny town of New Iberia, Louisiana. Since then my love for Cajun cooking has flourished. You might remember my recipe for Mardi Gras Jambalaya that I posted a while back. It was my go-to recipe for the New Orleans version (see: tomatoes) of the Louisiana rice dish.

But recently I’ve had a hankering for the brown Cajun-style jambalaya, and after a lengthy search, including asking my family and New Iberia locals on Facebook, I pulled together this fantastic recipe. One of the key components is the “gravy” made from browning the meats (be sure not to let it burn!) and I love how the parboiled rice is a bit fluffier than some wetter jambalayas you’ll find.

This recipe was an instant hit with my husband, who claims it’s the best jambalaya he’s ever had (aw, he’s so sweet). I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it’s certainly the best jambalaya I’ve made in my home kitchen.

 

 

Cajun Jambalaya
Serves 10-12

Ingredients
1.5 pounds andouille sausage, sliced
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into large pieces
1 (8-10 ounce) ham steak, cubed
2 large onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups chicken broth
2.5 cups parboiled long grain rice
¾ tablespoon whole fresh thyme leaves
¾ tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon curly parsley, chopped
1.5 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, or to taste (I use Tony Chachere’s)
Chopped green onions, for garnish

 

Directions
In a large cast iron or heavy bottom pot, cook sausage and ham over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t stick on the bottom. (You may need to add a small amount of water if it sticks too much.) Take meat out, set aside.

Brown onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic in the pot over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until soft. Add chicken pieces and brown on all sides for about 10 minutes. Add sausage and ham back into the pot and add chicken broth. Simmer this mixture over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

Then add herbs and Cajun seasoning, mix well. Add rice and stir well for a minute or two to make sure it doesn’t stick on the bottom. Cover with a lid, turn down the heat as low as possible and simmer for 25-35 minutes until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed. Turn heat off and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before fluffing. Garnish with green onions before serving.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Eating Our Way Through Jazz Fest

 

My Top 4 Bites at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
(described in 3 words)!

We let the good times roll at our first New Orleans Jazz Fest experience in May 2017. Live tunes, authentic Nola eats, festive parades — we loved it all!

 

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#4 — Crawfish Bread: Crispy. Cheesy. Carbs.

 

 

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#3 — Muffuletta: Meaty. Tangy. Fresh.

 

 

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#2 — Red Beans & Rice: Spicy. Tender. Filling.

 

 

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#1 — Crawfish Monica: Quintessential. Creamy. Pasta.

Bayou Classics: Shuck N Dive Cajun Café

 

It’s officially Mardi Gras season, and so I felt it was only appropriate to finally share with you about my love affair with Shuck N Dive. Situated in a nondescript shopping plaza off Federal Highway near downtown Fort Lauderdale, this lively Cajun café is one of our favorite restaurants in all of South Florida. The interior is decked out in LSU and New Orleans-style knick-knacks — and there’s always either zydeco music blasting through the speakers or a sports event shown on the bar’s TVs. My husband has also noted the “flashy”, shall we say, Bourbon Street photos that adorn the men’s bathroom walls.

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Boiled Crawfish

This has to be the restaurant we’ve visited the most since moving to Miami. And we can’t get enough of their food. We have our standards, like the 3-Way Oyster Platter (Black n’ Blues, Oyster Rockefeller and Oysters Bienville) and the pork boudin, which is flown in from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, a small town across the way from where I was born. There are also a few items we’ve tried only once, but overall enjoyed — fried pickles, naked chicken wings, red beans and rice. The “Larry” Cobb salad delivers a huge portion topped with chicken and Gulf shrimp, and during season they typically have boiled crawfish, most of which have been decent size.

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Crawfish Etouffee

I enjoy their hearty portion of crawfish etouffee, albeit it’s a creamier version than those you’ll find in Louisiana — and nearly every time I go to Shuck N Dive I have a cup (or bowl) of either their Country Gumbo (pulled chicken with andouille and okra) or their seafood gumbo (shrimp and sausage), which is probably my favorite dish they serve. Nine times out of ten my husband orders the fried gulf shrimp po’boy — he also asks for it to be tossed in buffalo sauce, which adds some nice heat to an already overstuffed sandwich.

A couple Abita or Nola Brewing beers and some Zapp’s chips, and you feel as though you’re in any old roadside dive in Louisiana. But here you won’t find a drive-thru daiquiri stand or snowballs for dessert. When we can’t make it to my hometown of New Iberia, Louisiana, or I’m not up for cooking my Cajun family’s recipes, Shuck N Dive certainly delivers that taste of home, no matter how far away.