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Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

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I sure hope everyone did a little something special for Fat Tuesday yesterday!  I took the kids to the hot springs pools in Calistoga, which is much more relaxing than cooking all day, like I usually do!  Even after a long day at the spa, I was still able to come home and pull off a delicious Mardi Gras dinner in under and hour.

Jambalaya is a Louisiana Creole dish with rice and whatever meats are on hand, usually chicken, smoked sausage, ham and shrimp.  Because the region is such a culinary melting pot, jambalaya very well could have been adapted from Spanish paella somewhere along the way.  There are just about as many version of Jambalaya as there are cooks in Louisiana, I’ll never forget the time we had it made with pasta at a wedding in Natchez!  That may have been the best tasting pot of noodles ever!

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

The first thing you always start with is the Holy Trinity- onions, bell peppers and celery.  This goes for all things creole and cajun, but not to be confused with mirepoix-onions, celery and carrots, which is the flavor base in French cuisine.   These aromatic veggies chopped up and sautéed with garlic, kick-off just about every dish in the region.

The meats.  It’s best to get your hands on some fine smoked sausage or tasso ham.  Andoullie is a smoked pork sausage that will really give you some heat!  I like to use chicken thighs rather than breast because the meat holds up well to long-cooking without drying out, and has more flavor.  If I have the time, I like to rub the chicken with some cajun seasonings, and throw it and the sausage on a charcoal grill to dial up the smokey-flavor goodness (BTW- that’s my secret to crazy-awesome gumbo, too!).  If I can find wild gulf shrimp, I’m happy to use them, but since I detest farm-raised seafood, sometimes I just go without.  These are just suggestions, honor this cuisine by using what is fresh and local to your region.

Since we’re talking meat- I’ve tried many, MANY times to make vegetarian versions for my meatless friends, and they are… just OK.  To make this food really work, you truly need fat and flesh.  Try spending a few weeks in New Orleans with a strict vegetarian, poor Maggie ate nothing but grilled cheese and french fries.  That’s just how the good times roll!

Chicken and sausage jambalaya fires up those taste buds, warms the belly, and if you turn on a little Rebirth Brass Band, you’ll be transported straight to the balmy streets of the Crescent City.  Warm cornbread and cold beer is all you need to complete this perfect meal, well, maybe some beads!

I know this post is a tad late for this year’s Mardi Gras celebration, but keep it mind when you’re looking for something just a little bit special, or to break out of a culinary rut.  I’ll remind you next year!  Well, maybe, it will be the day before I turn 40… so… we’ll see.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 Tbs olive oil for sautéing
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ lb smoked sausage or ham, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 qrt canned tomatoes or 28 oz can
  • 1 qrt of chicken stock
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • chopped green onion for garnish
  • Hot sauce
  1. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven, or large pot, and add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the ham and chicken, stirring them well into the vegetables.
  3. Add the rice and stir everything in the pot well to coat the rice. Cook about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the canned tomatoes, chicken stock and parsley, and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover the pot with the lid and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Garnish with chopped parsley, green onions and few splashes of hot sauce, serve with cornbread muffins.

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