For St. Hank Williams' Feast Day (No It Isn't), Here Is Your Jambalaya Recipe

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Jambalaya is the Louisiana Creole word for "chop suey." This recipe is really about a method more than the specific ingredients.


It's perfect for folks who have to work all day and then put food on their families. If you're okay with a knife and know how to cook rice, you can make this delicious one-pot dinner. And it scales up or down quite easily.

You can change or omit the protein element to fit your budget, mood, or dietary restrictions. All the other ingredients are optional and to taste; as long as the liquid to rice ratios are right, it will work out.

As if you need one, making jambalaya is a great excuse to listen to Hank Williams' classic of the same name. 

Jambalaya

1 cup rice

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

1/2 onion, 1 or 2 ribs of celery, 1/2 green bell pepper, 1/4 red bell pepper, all diced together

Fresh garlic, fresh hot peppers, and whatever herbs you've got in your garden (parsley, tarragon, and thyme, for us), all minced together

Various sized pinches of paprika,dry mustard, cumin, coriander, dried cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

1 smoked sausage, cut into rounds or on the (left-leaning) bias. (Andouille is the canon choice here, but maybe you can only get kielbasa or those weird light pink hot dogs, no problem)

A few cubes of frozen homemade chicken stock

1 beer (today, we're using a lovely union made American adjunct lager)

Maybe a dash of Worcestershire, can neither confirm nor deny

In your glass measuring cup that can hold at least 2 cups, put the frozen cubes of chicken stock, the juice from the can of tomatoes, and enough of the beer to top it off to 2 cups.

Drink the rest of the beer.

In a large sauce pan with a tight-fitting lid, saute the diced vegetables in the fat of your choice. I won't judge you.

When the vegetables start to get translucent around the edges, add the minced garlic, hot peppers, and herbs. Also, too, the pinches of spices. Stir it up and inhale deeply. Doesn't smell right? Work quickly to fix it with more pinches of things.

Add the sausage; stir it all up until it's all glistening from the fat it's rendering. Then, add the rice, and stir it up so it's covered in that lovely fat. Add the bay leaf, the tomatoes, and the combined liquids.

Really scrape up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan to incorporate them into the cooking liquid (i.e., deglaze the pan).

Bring to a boil; stir and put the lid on. Reduce heat to about medium-low. Cook 15-20 minutes (or longer if using brown rice), until the rice is done cooking.

Squeeze a lemon on top; stir, and serve it up, garnished with fresh minced herbs. Have tabasco sauce on hand in case it doesn't have the kick you or your dinner companions want. Whoever gets the bay leaf has to do the dishes.

If you want pieces of chicken or other meat in lieu of or addition to the sausage, brown those in the pan before you do the vegetables, then add them back at the same time you add all the liquid. If you want to include shrimp, stir those in about 5-7 minutes before the rice should be done. If you have a little bit of wine in the bottom of a bottle from last night, use that to deglaze the pan before adding all the liquid. The possibilities are endless.

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