After expensive holidays and a long summer of entertaining the kids, it’s not uncommon to be feeling the pinch. Shops are already beginning to display goods adorned with reindeers and bearded men in red suits, giving us a sharp reminder that it’s almost that time of year again. Now really is the time that we need to be putting some money to one side and making every penny count. Making meals to feed the family for less will always be a help and an easy way to do this is by making use of all those leftovers.
The adaptability of jambalaya makes it a perfect dish for using up all the bits and pieces left in the fridge and everyone in the family is bound to love it.
Originating from Louisiana, USA, jambalaya has become a popular dish around the world. It is the deep-south version of paella and stemmed from the European heritage of those parts. Caribbean spices and a tomato base have replaced the equivalent ingredients of paella and nowadays it is a signature dish of New Orleans and the surrounding area.
Favoured because of its versatility, the basic recipe remains the same but you are able to alternate the meat and vegetable components, depending on those available or to create your favourite combination. Traditionally the amount of spices and stock added are estimates, not exact measures, meaning that you are unlikely to try two jambalayas that taste the same. It is important to maintain the base of the dish, namely tomato, celery, rice and stock; so that the jambalaya will have a stable body in which you can experiment with different meats and vegetables. After you have made a few jambalayas you will discover your favourite combination. The key indicators for a good one are the colour and obviously the taste, so try it as you cook and adjust as you think is needed!
1 cooked chicken breast
Pepperoni and/or chorizo
10 meatballs/3 sausages (cooked)
250g rice (white or wholegrain)
4 sticks of celery
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
Half a tin of sweet corn
1 chicken stock cube
Dice the celery and peppers into very small pieces and chop the tomatoes.
Add with the sweetcorn to a pan with olive oil and stir-fry over a low/medium heat.
Cook your rice as per the instructions on the pack. It normally takes around 10 minutes so start at around the same time you begin cooking the vegetables.
Slice the chorizo/pepperoni and sausage/meatballs, cut the chicken into small pieces, and add to the pan with some of the cayenne pepper, chilli powder and tomato puree. Mix in well.
Boil the kettle and prepare a jug of chicken stock.
Drain and rinse the rice. Add half the rice to the pan with some chilli powder and cayenne pepper, stir in well adding a little stock and turning up the heat.
Add the rest of the rice, some more tomato puree, spices and stock – a little at a time, just enough to lubricate it.
Taste and add more spices as necessary.
Serve with corn bread for an authentic Louisiana flavour.