Jambalaya
Ricardo DeAratanha/MCT

I am hungry for some good Cajun food, but I really don’t have the time to make the traditional jambalaya or gumbo. The next best thing is my Jambalaya Stir-Fry, which can be made quickly if all the ingredients are chopped and ready.

Of course, if time is not a problem, then you might want to make a pot of the "real thing" — jambalaya like it’s made in New Orleans.

Many years ago, when Paul Prudhomme, owner of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen and one of the country’s foremost authorities on Cajun cooking, first started promoting Cajun cuisine, many people felt it would be a passing fad. However, I think we can all agree Prudhomme took this down-to-earth cuisine from the bayou to a place of national prominence.

You will notice that both of these recipes contain onions, bell peppers and celery. A combination known as the "Cajun trinity," these are a must in Cajun cooking.

Whether it’s a simmering pot of traditional jambalaya or a skillet of quick-and-easy Jambalaya Stir-Fry, your palate is in for a treat.

JAMBALAYA STIR-FRY

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut in ¼-inch wide strips
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut in ¼-inch wide strips
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ¾ cup chopped cooked ham
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder (or to taste)
  • Hot steamed rice
  • ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, bell peppers and celery. Cook until peppers and celery are almost tender. Stir in ham. Add shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes or until shrimp change color from gray to pink. Combine lemon juice, soy sauce and cornstarch. Mix well and stir into shrimp/pepper mixture. Add chili powder and mix well. Continue cooking until mixture is slightly thickened. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with almonds.

NEW ORLEANS-STYLE JAMBALAYA

  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 chicken, cut up or boned
  • 1 ½ pounds sausage (similar to Kielbasa)
  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 heaping teaspoons salt
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups long grain rice (do not use short grain)
  • 2 cups chopped green onions

Season and brown chicken in oil (or lard or bacon drippings) over medium-high heat. Add sliced sausage and saute with chicken. Remove both from pot. Saute onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic to the tenderness you desire. Return chicken and sausage to pot. Add chicken stock, salt, cayenne pepper and other desired seasonings and bring to boil. If using Kitchen Bouquet for brown jambalaya, add 1 to 2 tablespoons. For red jambalaya, add approximately ¼ cup paprika, and you may want to use ½ stock and ½ tomato juice for your liquid. Add rice and return to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. After 10 minutes of cooking, remove cover and quickly turn rice from top to bottom completely. Cover and steam for an additional 20 minutes off the heat. By this time the rice should have absorbed all the liquid and should be tender. Add green onions.

This column was previously published in The Anniston Star. Contact Prudence Hilburn at prudencehilburn@aol.com.