I guess you could say my fiancé has southern roots. His grandmother, Gibby aka “Notorious G.I.B.”, is from South Carolina and his family vacations there every summer. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting South Carolina several times, most recently for my best friend’s gorgeous wedding on Kiawah Island. The week before the wedding, we traveled around Charleston, Columbia and Hilton Head, soaking up the southern culture. To say it’s another world from Boston is an understatement. I have to hand it to southerners though, they can EAT. The food down there is rich, delicious and about 2,000 calories on average a plate. One of my most memorable meals that week was Jambalaya. Jambalaya is actually one of my fiancé’s favorite dishes, he treats himself to it once in a while.
Now, the man and I have made the mistake of going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day way too many times. We’ve experienced being seated about 45 minutes after our reservations, bad service, cold food, you name it. So this year, I decided to surprise him and make Jambalaya, a meal we both love however have never made before. It’s easy, however by no means healthy or quick. So we’re changing things up a bit. The things we do for love, right?
I found this recipe on Williams-Sonoma.com and I gotta say, I did good! So if you ever want to take a little trip down South but can’t afford the airfare, go ahead and whip this right up. Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients, most of these things you may already have. Enjoy!
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 12 large shrimp, about 10 oz. total, peeled and deveined
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each 4 to 6 oz., cut into large pieces
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 jalapeño chili, minced
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 6 oz. smoked ham, cut into cubes (we used deli ham)
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme (we omitted)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more, to taste
- In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the shrimp and cook until opaque, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add the chicken to the pan and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the shrimp.
- In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery, and sauté until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook for 1 minute.
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. Transfer the onion mixture to a large Dutch oven. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, broth and a pinch of salt. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes.
- Add the shrimp, chicken, ham, paprika, thyme and cayenne. Stir well, cover and let stand until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and black pepper.
Makes about 4 servings. Or 2 if you’re hungry. Oops.