Learn how to make jambalaya, a one-pot comfort food packed with cultural influences and mouthwatering flavors!
Jambalaya is a stew brimming with a variety of proteins, rice, veggies, and savory seasonings. A true melting pot of cultures, jambalaya is the signature dish of Louisiana and an adaptation of Spanish paella, recreated with inexpensive, accessible ingredients. It also features German influences with the addition of smoked sausage. Over time, other regions contributed influences, making jambalaya a collision of cultures with endless variations!
Though jambalaya varies from kitchen to kitchen, there are two main categories: Creole and Cajun. These stews differ in the use of tomatoes and the order in which you cook the ingredients.
Creole stew is popular in New Orleans, which is known for Creole culture. An alternative name is red jambalaya due to the red hue it gets from tomatoes. To make Creole stew, cook the vegetables and meat, then add the tomatoes, stock, and rice. Once it’s boiling, cover and cook until the rice absorbs the stock.
Cajun stew doesn’t contain tomatoes and caramelizes the meats alone before adding the remaining ingredients, imparting a deeper, smokier flavor than Creole versions. After browning the meat, add the vegetables, stock, and rice. You’ll find Cajun stew in rural Louisiana.
It’s easy to whip up a large batch of jambalaya for game day, Mardi Gras, or any special occasion. Set out the following components bar-style to allow guests to create their own takes on this diverse, delicious dish!
Proteins: Meats are the building blocks of jambalaya. The most common varieties are Andouille sausage (smoked pork sausage), chicken, and crawfish. For a heartier stew, add meats like ham (such as the spiced and smoked Cajun tasso for an authentic twist), bacon, kielbasa, and chorizo, plus seafood like shrimp, scallops, mussels, and clams.
Vegetables: You can’t make jambalaya without the “holy trinity” of vegetables: white onion, green bell pepper, and celery. Beyond the trinity, set out red and green onion, red and yellow bell peppers, poblano or jalapeño peppers, or sautéed zucchini for added color and flavor.
Tomato: Tomatoes give Creole jambalaya a subtle sweetness. If making Creole stew, use tomato sauce, tomato paste, or a tomato-herb mixture offering mild, medium, or spicy options depending on your heat preference.
Rice: Avoid short-grain varieties like Arborio, as they’re too sticky. Instead, add a few different long-grain rice options to your jambalaya bar like white rice, brown rice, herbed rice, basmati rice, or jasmine rice.
Flavorings: Add a depth of flavor to your jambalaya with garlic, Cajun seasoning, and herbs like Italian parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, and bay leaves. You can also spice things up with red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chopped bacon, pickled jalapeño slices, and green onions.
Start your jambalaya journey with these delicious flavor combinations:
No matter the combination of ingredients, jambalaya always tastes delicious. To make your own jambalaya bar loaded with quality ingredients, visit your local Giant Eagle and Market District!