For a long time, I had thought that Jambalaya was a gimmicky dish. I’ve had many many bad Jambalayas in restaurants past… ones with under cooked or soggy rice, ones that tasted like a big pot of tomato sauce, and ones packed with fatty greasy sausage. But for something that sounds so similar to Paella, which is one of my favourite dishes, I believe that the dish itself had a lot of promise, just not at the Cajun themed restaurants I had been to.

A while back I tried the recipe from Bon Appetite magazine, pretty much on a whim due to the pretty photograph in the pages. It actually turned out really really well. The recipe calls for Chicken, Tasso (smoked ham), Andouille Sausage, and smoked sausage. I substituted the Smoked Sausage for chicken sausages, and the Andouille Sausage was already smoked. I also added shrimp at the end.

The recipe is quite straight forward, you fried up some bacon in a pot, then add the smoked meats and cook until browned. Add the vegetables which includes bell peppers, onions, celery and cook until softened.

At this point, the raw chicken is added to the pot and cooked, stirring often, until it becomes white. and thyme and chili powder are stirred in.

Rice is then added to the pot, along with a few cups of chicken or vegetable broth, and the whole thing stuck in the oven and cooked for about 50 minutes.

I decided to add shrimp to the recipe, and I hate overcooked seafood. Instead of stirring the shrimp into the pot and keeping it in the oven, I decided to just lay the shrimp on the top of the Jambalaya, close the pot, and let the natural heat from the pot steam the shrimp. It worked like a charm.

Since Jambalaya is considered to be southern cuisine, I decided to make corn bread baked in the skillet. The cool thing about this corn bread recipe is that it calls for a Corn relish that is made from fresh corn kernels, cooked in vinegar and sugar with some onions and roasted peppers, so that when you bite into the corn bread, you get bits and pieces of fresh corn.

Finishing up the menu, I made some Quinoa with Hearts of Palm, which is vegan, and a roasted Asparagus salad with shaved Parmesan cheese.

The Quinoa dish takes about 20 minutes to make and will sit pretty well while you work on other dishes. I added roasted pecans to the dish to give it an extra layer of texture.

The Asparagus are roasted in olive oil and lemon zest for about 6 or 7 minutes, and then tossed with a lemon and olive oil dressing.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya:
Quinoa Salad with Hearts of Palm:
Skillet Corn bread with corn relish:
Asparagus Salad: