I love New Orleans. This city is a melting pot. And melting pots produce wonderful food. New Orleans has the influence of France, Spain, Italy… All those influences combined make all those delicious dishes: Gumbo, Muffaletta, Beignets, Po’ Boys… and, of course, Jambalaya. Today we will cook Jambalaya, New Orleans Paella. I call it like this because, although the way Jambalaya is cooked is different from the way paella is prepared, it has many similarities to the Spanish dish. Of course there are as many jambalayas as paellas, but in essence, both are rice dishes with meat and seafood. I will cook a typical Jambalaya with prawns and chicken.


Some vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped green pepper
½ cup sliced okra
1 chicken breast
1 Andouille Sausage, cut in half slices
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon hot paprika
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ cup crushed tomato
2 cups seafood and/or chicken stock
2 peeled and chopped tomatoes
Some salt
1 green onion (only the green stalks)
1 cup rice
10 prawns

The first thing we will do is to put some oil in a pan. I like using a big pan. It is important that the heat is well distributed. We will sauté the celery, the onion and the green pepper. I like okra in my Jambalaya so I will add it now too. Five minutes later we will add the chicken cut in little pieces and the Andouille sausage. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, and then add the bay leaf, the thyme, the oregano, the paprika and the black pepper. Stir well and then add the garlic and the crushed tomato. Let it cook for a while and when the tomato is reduced a bit, add the chopped tomato and the stock. Add some salt if needed and bring it to a boil, but the heat must be low.
Let’s say something about the stock. You can use either seafood or chicken stock. You can use both too. If you want, make your own stock using some chicken bones and the shell of the prawns, along with some vegetables.
Coming back to our recipe, we have to add the rice and the green onion stalks after 10-15 minutes of low heat. As for the rice, you can use regular long rice or parboiled rice. I prefer the regular one but if you use it, you take the risk of getting a sticky jambalaya. Parboiled rice is safer. When you add the rice, increase the heat and stir the bottom of the pan. We do this because we do not want the rice to stick on the pan. When you see that the rice starts absorbing the liquid, turn the heat off, cover the pan and let it sit there for 20-25 minutes. You can add the prawns now too if they are uncooked, but if they are cooked, you should add them at the last moment.
And then you will have your Jambalaya. You can serve it alone or as an accompaniment to other dishes. Really good.