Apparently jambalaya feelings run high for those raised on it. Comments on recipe sites about various jambalaya recipes are pretty intense. And a friend and good cook from the South kind of scoffed when I told him that I’d made low carb jambalaya. So if you’re a jambalaya purist, this recipe might not be for you. On the other hand, my daughter’s boyfriend is an experienced jambalaya eater and gave this recipe very high marks for taste authenticity. He did keep the Tabasco bottle close at hand though.
Jambalaya is generally considered to be a rice dish, made delicious by the addition of chicken, spicy or smoked sausage, and shrimp. I wanted to serve and eat jambalaya but I didn’t want all the carbs. No rice at all doesn’t work. It isn’t jambalaya and is too watery. However, way less rice works great. This isn’t a no carb recipe but it does have many fewer carbs than traditional jambalaya, with no sacrifice in yumminess. The recipe serves 6 (actually 7 if you count one leftover portion), so each serving contains 1/4 cup of cooked rice.
The vegetables in jambalaya are finely chopped and disappear into the sauce. I quadrupled them and it tasted fantastic. Since the spiciness of andouille sausage varies so much, I think it makes sense to taste a little piece of cooked sausage before deciding how much cayenne pepper to add. I added only 1/4 teaspoon because the andouille from Whole Foods is pretty spicy. Be aware though that my spice tolerance is low, so you may want to add even more cayenne than the recipe calls for. I served Tabasco on the side.
A little more about the sausage: some people use fully cooked sausage. I tried that but I think it tastes much better to use raw sausage. The little browned bits from the sausage frying enhance the flavor of the dish. My husband is allergic to shellfish so I left out the shrimp. It tastes great either way.
I served this with a side of buttered, slivered, collard greens. See my recipe for Buttered, Slivered Collard Greens. The collards make a nice base on which to serve the jambalaya and the tastes work well together, both being Southern and all.
Make sure to read the note in the recipe about an easier way (than by hand) to finely chop all those vegetables.
- 5 cups finely chopped onion, about 2-3 medium onions (see chopping note below)
- 6 ribs celery, finely chopped (see chopping note below)
- 4 cups red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped, about 3 large peppers (see chopping note below)
- 6 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 1/2 to 4 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, about 8
- 2 pounds raw andouille sausage, cut in half the long way and then into 3/4"-1" chunks
- 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (see note)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 ounces) with juice
- 2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (optional, for garnish)
- 1 cup bottled clam juice in place of 1 cup of the chicken broth
- 1 pound medium shrimp, shelled
- Note - How to finely chop vegetables: Use the food processor as an alternative to finely chopping the vegetables by hand. Do each type of vegetable separately. Cut large chunks by hand, put in food processor in batches (bowl no more than 1/3 full) and pulse until finely chopped. May need to scrape down sides of bowl once. Do not overprocess; you don't want vegetable puree.
- A note about the cayenne pepper: Andouille sausage vary in spiciness. Taste a piece of cooked sausage before deciding how much cayenne pepper you'd like to add.
- Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high until hot but not smoking. Add chicken and cook about 5 minutes until browned. Turn chicken with a spatula and cook on the other side until brown, about 3 minutes longer.Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Add sausage and cook, flipping sausage over a few times, until browned.Transfer sausage to a plate, using a slotted spoon, and set aside.
- Add vegetables and garlic, and cook stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pot, until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add rice, salt, thyme, cloves, and cayenne. Cook stirring until rice is coated with vegetables, about 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaves, and browned sausage to the pot; stir to combine. Place chicken on the top of the mixture. Do not mix chicken in. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (no longer any pink when cut with a paring knife) and tender.
- Remove chicken to a cutting board and continue cooking jambalaya for about 15 minutes longer until rice is cooked. Taste the rice and if it's still a little hard, continue cooking, tasting rice every 5 minutes, until rice feels soft. Note: if using white rice it will probably be done when the chicken is cooked.
- Shred chicken. The easiest way to do this is to hold a fork in each hand with the prongs facing down. Insert the prongs of one fork into the chicken piece to hold it down and use the other fork to pull chicken away in shreds. Or, if the chicken is cool, you can just use your hands.
- Return shredded chicken to the pot and stir in. Remove the bay leaves, scatter parsley on top, and serve immediately.
- I serve this with very thinly sliced cooked collard greens. See my recipe for Buttered Slivered Collard Greens.
- Substitute 1 cup of clam juice for 1 cup of the chicken broth and add at the same time as the chicken broth. When the dish is fully cooked, scatter shrimp over the jambalaya, cover, and cook on medium-low until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.