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Try these tips to make the best jambalaya ever

The vegetables are done when they are reduced in volume by almost half.
The vegetables are done when they are reduced in volume by almost half. Special to the Sun Herald

You look at the calendar and realize today is the day all your friends are coming over for the big game.

You completely forgot and won’t have the time to make that elaborate party foods you had thought about. Don’t worry.

Just make a big pot of jambalaya.

Just about everyone loves jambalaya and with a few simple steps you can make a jambalaya that will blow your friends away. It isn’t expensive. It isn’t time-consuming, and it is easy to make.

Jambalaya is a delicious combination of base vegetables, chicken, chicken stock, sausage, shrimp, rice and seasoning.

If you follow these easy suggestions, your jambalaya will be the best ever.

The Vegetables

Use onion and bell pepper in equal portions and half that amount of celery. Take your time and cook them until the volume is reduced by half.

Chicken

You can either use a store-bought rotisserie chicken or roast it yourself. If you use a rotisserie chicken, you can de-bone it and use the bones (along with a chopped onion and a few carrots) to make a stock, although there is nothing wrong with using canned stock. Roasting your own chicken is pretty simple and takes about 45 minutes.

Sausage

Most grocery stores have a good variety of sausage from which to choose. Some have in-store made fresh sausage that would be a good choice, but smoked pork sausage is probably better. Many local cooks like Conecuh, an Alabama-made sausage. You might consider using two or even three types of sausage. Whatever kind you use, make sure to sauté it until it is crispy and brown before you put it in the pot.

Shrimp

This is easy, use the biggest shrimp you can find and don’t overcook them. Two minutes over high heat should be fine.

Seasoning

This is another simple one. Use Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Tony’s has plenty of salt.

Rice

Any long-grain rice will do, Thai Jasmine is good, but I prefer Delta Blues Rice that is grown in Mississippi.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Serves 8

2 pounds large, shell off shrimp

3 cups deboned chicken

2 1/2 cups sliced smoked sausage

2 chopped onions

2 chopped bell peppers

1 cup chopped celery

3 cups rice

8 cups chicken stock

Tony Chachere’s Seasoning, red pepper flakes, black pepper

Optional chopped jalapeno peppers if you want it spicy

Olive oil

Sauté the sliced sausage in a little oil until well-browned. Remove and set aside. Season the shrimp with Tony’s, then turn the heat up and sauté the shrimp for 2 minutes, remove and set aside. Turn the heat down, season the vegetables, then sauté in lots of olive oil until the volume is reduced by almost half. Add the sausage back to the pot, then add 6 cups of stock, the rice, and simmer over low heat, lid on, for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally and add additional stock as required. When the rice is done, add the chicken and shrimp. Stir, taste and re-season as necessary.

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