Introduction: New Orleans Jambalaya

Jambalaya is New Orleans. Spanish, Choctaw, French, Haitian, and Arcadian people converged around the high ground that the Mississippi rolls by. Out in the middle—the Vieux Carre, people traded their goods. And in New Orleans still today, where people gather, people eat.

In the spring farmers would come with their first tomatoes of the year, Creole tomatoes. We would visit the market early in the morning and buy these beauties. There is no best, or only way to prepare Jambalaya. Each season brought different things to the pot. Each family’s Jambalaya became the best and, in many cases, the only way to make “it”.

Step 1: What You Need


About three pounds chicken wings

One pound andouille sausage

Five or so fresh tomatoes(or One large can tomatoes)

At least two large sweet onions

Two or three toes of garlic

Three green peppers

One or two hot peppers

Handful of parsley

About a teaspoon of dried mint.

One quart chicken stock or broth

Two cups of rice

Two tablespoons of tomato paste

Worcestershire sauce, a big tablespoon

Tabasco Pepper Sauce, almost a tablespoon

Crystal Hot Sauce, maybe two tablespoons

½ tablespoon of salt—Kosher

1 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper

½ glass of white wine

Step 2: Prep Work:

My Jambalaya is creole (meaning I always use tomatoes) and I’ll try to share how to put everything together and each of us with our separate families can pass a good time together.

This time it is Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya. I used about a 5 quart iron pot. For years I used a 24 quart stock pot. Jambalaya is the essence New Orleans and southern Louisiana. Not only because it is easy to make(it is), but it is easy to feed a lot of people. The perfect food to make for parade parties, people over during Jazz fest or any other reason to eat, drink, dance and celebrate. To start you get everything together. I don’t know why but I use chicken wings. I remember when chicken wings were cheap. Now days chicken breasts are cheaper. Tomatoes, I used 5 in my pot. Alas, not creole but fresh and smelling like garden tomatoes. And I use a white wine. Following Julia Child’s advice, never use a wine you wouldn’t drink. So open the bottle to start and let it breathe. Pour a glass and start sipping. People are coming. Music and dance will ensue.

Step 3: Chop Up

You could use a big can of petite tomatoes. I picked real ones and had to remove the skin before dicing.

Once the tomatoes are diced, go through and chop the rest of veggies.

Step 4: More Knife Work

I like a rustic cut. Meaning I don’t have to chop as much.

So, chop onions; Green peppers; (remove seeds and white part inside) Green Onions; (cut off bottoms and chop everything else); Parsley; Hot pepper(s) (again remove seeds and white part inside. Do not touch your face or eyes.) (I sip wine and play some Dr. John or Irma Thomas in the background so I can concentrate.) I used a couple toes of garlic. I try to chop it pretty fine.

Step 5: Last Step of Prep

Cut up the chicken and sausage after the veggies. Food safety is important. I cut all of the joints in the wings and save the tips to throw in freezer and keep for the next batch of stock.

I use andouille sausage. It is not easy to find around here but so worth it.

Step 6: Hot Oil!

Now comes the cooking. Put a high heat oil in your pot and bring to the point where it shimmers. I like to use peanut oil, but the store hasn’t had any small bottles for a while, so I used Grapeseed Oil.

The chicken pieces need to be dry when you drop it in the very hot oil. Be careful. Keep the oil hot. The pieces of chicken need to be cooked so the oil is popping and spattering out the top of the pot. Brown the chicken to a nice crisp. Keep stirring and moving pieces around. Keep the heat up till you take the chicken out and put it aside.

Step 7: Start Adding Veggies

Lower the heat a bit. Now you add all of the onions, and peppers add salt and coarse black pepper. Scrape the bottom of the pot so you release and mix in all of those delicious brown bits left over from the chicken. Cook until the onions turn translucent.

Step 8: Mixing in the Rest

Now add parsley, tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaf if using or dried mint, Crystal Hot Sauce, Tabasco Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce. Mix in about two tablespoons of tomato paste. Go ahead and put a half of cup of wine in. (Do you need more wine in your glass?) Start stirring. Keep the temperature up.

Step 9: Everything in Bubbling Pot

As the mixture starts to bubble add your rice. Stir the rice real good. Mix everything together. Turn down the burner till the Jambalaya is slowly simmering. Cover pot. Stir every now and again. Cook until rice is done.(At least 45 minutes)

Step 10: Let's All Join Together and Pass a Good Time

The Jambalaya cooks while you do other things. Cut the loaf of French bread. Put the pot where people can serve themselves and have a beer. In the day the beer was dixie. I never liked it and I drink Abita beer made above Lake Pontchartrain in Abita Springs. I grabbed their Purple Haze this time. Music and laughter are required to balance the joy and love you put in. Yes, I know what it means to miss New Orleans.

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