As with many Louisiana dishes, jambalaya has distinctive Creole and Cajun versions. Creole jambalaya is reddish, a color it gets from tomatoes. Cajun jambalaya never includes tomatoes and is brown. Creole jambalaya almost always contains shrimp. Cajun jambalaya always has smoked sausage or tasso. Instead of stepping into the endless “which jambalaya is better” debate, I present here my favorite version. It has elements of both styles, with oysters providing a unique flavor. I don’t include tomatoes–but if you add a 16-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with the vegetables, that would be perfectly okay and quite authentic.
Yield: Serves 12 to 18
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 lb. chicken leg quarters, each cut into 4 pieces, bone in
2 lb. andouille or other smoked sausage, cut into¼-inch-thick slices
4 cups (uncooked) Uncle Ben’s rice, or similar parboiled rice
2 green onions, chopped
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 dozen large fresh, shucked oysters
1. Heat the oil in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven. Add the chicken and sausage, and brown the chicken all over. Add the onions, peppers, celery, and garlic, and sauté until they wilt. Add the oyster liquor or stock and 5 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the browned bits in the pot.
2. Add the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, Creole seasoning, salt, bay leaf, thyme, and marjoram. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside. Stir the rice into the pot. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, remove the chicken meat from the bones and set aside. When the rice is cooked, stir in the chicken meat, green onions, parsley, and oysters. Continue to cook, uncovered, gently stirring occasionally, until the rice just starts to dry out. Adjust the seasonings as needed.