I’ve been wanting to write this recipe up forever, especially since we’ve had so many sausages on sale this fall.
I learned this version of Jambalaya at a Scouting Outdoor Leadership Training, years ago. It’s been adapted a bit toward northern ingredients, mostly for frugal reasons. If you’re feeling flush, by all means, load it up with all kinds of meats and seafoods, buy the best Andouille you can find – on a budget, though, this always gets compliments with just smoked sausage or kielbasa sausage and maybe some chicken.
I can’t tell you how amazing this is cooked in a cast iron Dutch oven over an open fire on a crisp fall day – but it’s nearly as good done in the kitchen. It serves 12, so the best part is you can share it with lots of friends and family. The second best part? Cost of a dinner for 12 is $6.50, and you could go a little cheaper with the suggestions below and shave off another $2.78 for a total of $3.72. Now, if that isn’t an excuse to host a party, what is?
This is a perfect example of how careful shopping can lower the cost of an already cheap dish by a tremendous amount. One note: I generally use Uncle Ben’s rice and it always turns out perfectly – I used another rice in the photo above, and it was a little sticky.
Jambalaya – Scout Version, serves 12
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 chicken breasts, no skin, no bone, 1/2″ cubes
- 1/2 pound smoked sausage, or andouille, cut in half, then diagonally on a slant
- 4 medium onions, diced
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 3 green peppers, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups long-grain rice
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (try using either the Cajun or Creole blend)
- 3 green onions, sliced, for garnish – optional
- 2 tomatoes, diced, for garnish – optional
- 1/4 cup oil, use for roux
- 1/4 cup flour, use for roux
Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook through in oil – remove. You’ll add it back in when you turn the rice. Cook the sausage. Remove from pan, on a different plate then the chicken. Add vegetables and saute until tender. (Or if you just want to go for it, saute the meats, then dump in the vegetables.)
While the meat and vegetables are cooking, make a roux by heating oil in a heavy pan. Add flour and stir over low heat until mixture is about the color of a copper penny, maybe a bit darker. Set aside.
Return sausage to the pot, add Cajun seasoning, roux and broth, bring to a boil. Add rice and return to a boil. Cover with lid and turn down to a simmer. After 10 minutes, remove lid and quickly turn rice from top to bottom. Add the chicken back in, green onions and/or tomatoes if using, cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
A variation would be to make a red jambalaya – simply omit the roux and add in 1/4 cup paprika instead. It would be slightly cheaper and a little lighter on the fat.
Money & Time Saving Strategies:
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
- Vegetables: I almost always use a food processor for the vegetables, just rough chop them first. I find that generally the smaller the dice, the more likely the kids I serve will eat the dish. The bell peppers can be very expensive out of season, but they really are pretty key for this dish. I sometimes cut it back to one, or look for them on sale, and when I see them, I’ll make this. For the cost, see Vegetables and Fruits, my cost for this recipe: Celery 49 cents, Bell Peppers (3) $2.07, Onion 57 cents, Green Onion Free, Garlic 10 cents. (I omitted the tomato.) Total: $3.64
- Meats: Buy the meats on sale, see Proteins for discussion. I often make this with a pound of sausage, and omit the chicken – this dish has a plenty of protein. My cost for the chicken, $1.92, for the sausage at one pound, 50 cents. Total Cost: $2.48.
- Rice: I almost always use regular rice, not instant, and not the flavored packets. I do look for sales and match with coupons. We’ve been lucky here with the Riceland Rice, the coupons out there have made it free for most of the fall.
- Chicken Broth: Free – make it from bits and pieces and scraps. See basic recipe.
- Cajun Seasoning: I mix up my own, see Spice, Herb & Flavor Substitutes. Cost is about 5 cents.
- Flour: Cost about 5 cents.
- Oil: I do like to use real Olive Oil See my discussion on how to buy reasonably priced Olive Oil. Cost for this recipe for 1/2 cup is 28 cents.
- Roux – Some people cook the roux right in the dish – I have a hard time controlling it perfectly, and do mine in a different pan. I usually double it, and put half in the fridge for next time – it will keep, literally for months in a tightly closed jar in the back.
Per Serving: 454 Calories; 15g Fat (29.7% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 60g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 573mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 2 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
Put Your Own Spin on it: There are no hard and fast rules on what you put in Jambalaya or how much of each ingredient. Vary this and make your own traditional family recipe. This is not hot or spicy, but pass the hot sauce for those who like it that way. If you do like spicy food, you could up the seasoning a bit, but Creole and/or Cajun cooking is not necessarily traditionally spicy. Consider serving it with greens for a real Southern feel and a little more nutrition.
Here are some Rules of Thumb:
- 1 cup of rice feeds three people.
- One cup of rice to one cup of onion, 1/2 cup of celery and 1/2 cup of green pepper.
- One cup of raw rice to 1 1/2 cup of liquid.
- Over season to compensate for the rice.
- Cook a total of 25 minutes, turning after 10.
- Serving size is about 1 3/4 cup.
An easy one pot meal that everyone seems to like, and usually has leftovers. It’s simple, fun and great party food, or a great dish to cook and serve early in the week and then bring it out a few days later.
I do sometimes freeze a serving or two for lunches; they tend to get a little mushy, but still taste great.