Food on Fire

Jambalaya On The Fire

Jambalaya, originally a peasant dish, is made in one pot with regionally available and inexpensive ingredients

Jambalaya is what happened to Paella after emigrating to North America
Jambalaya is what happened to Spanish paella after emigrating to North America — Photo courtesy Timothy Fowler

What is Jambalaya?

Jambalaya is what happened to Spanish Paella after emigrating to North America. Saffron, the major flavour enhancer of paella, was nearly impossible to get in those early days. Undeterred, the folks on the new ground used tomatoes as a substitute. Other local ingredients found their way into the pot too. The main ingredients—chicken, sausage and seafood—remain constant as does onions, celery and green pepper.

How do I make Jamabalaya on the fire?

Feel free to shake it up a bit. Changing out the chicken for rabbit or using a different sausage (chorizo comes to mind) would be fine. I added carrots and my own pepper spice blend. My preference for Asian celery comes from it being nearly all leaves and for its pungent celery flavour.

This is a simple one-pot over-the-fire dish. Go ahead, light it up.

Equipment

  • 12” Dutch oven
  • Dutch oven lid lifter
  • Dutch oven lid stand
  • Cutting board
  • French knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces (120 grams) of pancetta or bacon cubed
  • 1/2 a bone-in chicken, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes (if you want a boneless dish go ahead and substitute boneless breasts or thighs)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) of fresh carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large yellow onion peeled and diced
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Asian celery leaves chopped coarsely (or use the green leaves of regular celery)
  • 2 green peppers seeded, diced
  • About a pound (500 grams) Andouille sausage grilled, cooled and sliced diagonally. (Chorizo is a good substitute if you can’t find spicy marjoram-flavoured Andouille.)
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 ml) canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 ml) of medium grain rice
  • 3 cups (750 ml) of hot chicken stock or 2 tsp (10 ml) powdered chicken stock in three cups (750 ml) of hot water
  • About a pound (500 grams) of cooked shrimp
  • Powdered pepper blend or commercial Cajun spice (I make my own with equal parts black peppercorns, white peppercorns, green peppercorns, Ancho chilies, Guajillo chilies, and for some real kick add a few Tien Tsin Peppers or Red Thai Chilies—crush the chilies by hand and pulverize the works in the coffee grinder)
  • Salt (to taste)

Method

1. Collect and prepare all of the ingredients
2. Build a fire to grill the sausage and cook the Jambalaya over (or you can use your camp stove)
3. Grill the Andouille sausage, chill and slice diagonally
4. Brown pancetta or bacon
5. Add chicken pieces, season with pepper blend, brown one side, turn, brown the other
6. Season with pepper blend
7. Add onions and carrots.
8. Cover, stirring every three minutes or so, cook until onions turn translucent and start to brown
9. Add rice and sauté for four minutes
10. Add tomato and chicken stock, stir well
11. Cover and simmer, stir every five minutes or so
12. At 20 minutes check the consistency of the pot; add another cup of water if required
13. Correct seasoning with salt
14. Add cooked sausage, celery, peppers and shrimp, bring back to a simmer for 20 minutes, stir once at 10 minutes

Serves 4-6 people

Jambalaya, paella and gumbo are all related one-pot dishes from a peasant past. These are all made with regionally available and inexpensive ingredients, like so much of our historical foods. And they work great for the campfire cook with a crowd to please and feed.

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