RECIPE: Big Daddy’s Jambalaya

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Big Daddy’s Jambalaya

  • 2 medium green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1 diced medium Vidalia or yellow onion
  • 4 celery ribs, diced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (8 TB) plus more if needed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cans Guinness or similar stout or porter
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cans Red Gold tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Old Bay or Creole seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • About 2 quarts chicken broth, lower sodium style
  • 1 can (28 oz.) Red Gold peeled whole tomatoes
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped (turkey thighs preferable)
  • 1 pound Cajun or Creole sausage, such as andouille, sliced into half-inch rounds (or other similar smoked spiced pork sausage)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 pound firm mixed seafood (such as scallops, shrimp, crawfish tails, crab, etc.)
  • Extra chicken broth, if needed
  • 2 cups long-grain rice, cooked (substitute chicken broth for water)
  • French baguette or similar, sliced
  • Tabasco to taste
  • 6 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

Dice the onion, peppers and celery. Add vegetable oil to a heavy skillet and heat over medium heat. Add vegetables, season with a pinch or two of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened and the onions become translucent, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Set vegetables aside.

Now it’s time to make the roux. Place butter in the heavy skillet and melt over low to medium heat. Add flour. Grab one of the beers for the chef. Stir to combine butter-flour to combine and continue stirring with a medium whisk until roux is the color of chocolate, about 10 to 15 minutes. You should have finished the beer by now.

Add the cooked vegetables and the garlic, tomato paste, Cajun seasoning, salt, cayenne, paprika, black pepper and stir into roux.

Stir in chicken broth, canned tomatoes, and ONE beer, and allow the mixture to thicken. Add chicken and sausage, ½ teaspoon salt, bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes. You can let this go longer. It will develop a deeper color and a smokier flavor, but the chicken will shred in the jambalaya. My guests have always been okay with that.

Add seafood about 15 minutes before serving. This also allows you to serve some guests prior to adding the seafood if any have seafood allergies or don’t enjoy seafood.

Season to taste, serve with rice and sliced baguette. Guests can season to their liking with hot sauce. Garnish with green onions.

Finish the last beer and enjoy all the compliments! Makes about 12 servings.

Recipe by Gene Cottingham, Colts 2017 Best Tailgate Recipe Contest finalist for Cook-Off Competition.

Notes from Gene: This dish is inspired by my Gulf Coast roots, where everyone has their own take on Jambalaya, Gumbo, Shrimp and Grits and many other Creole/Cajun dishes. Mine is based on a traditional Red Jambalaya but with a bit of Gumbo influence.


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