There are always those dishes that I make regularly for weeks, sometimes months… and then they drop off the regular rotation, and I never remember why. Jambalaya is definitely one of those dishes. It’s endlessly variable, only has a few ingredients, and can use up leftover meat. It’s an easy one-pot meal, and “quick” by my standards- prep only took a few minutes, then it cooks by itself on the stovetop for another 30 minutes, unattended. You don’t even have to stir it.
This is a Cajun-style “brown” jambalaya. The Creole-style “red” jambalaya recipes have tomatoes and are a little fussier. I infinitely prefer the Cajun-style recipes, even if I don’t make them as spicy as they’re supposed to be. “Authentic” Cajun-style would be spicier and include celery and onions, but my kids have varying levels of heat-tolerance, I didn’t have any celery and my poor husband can’t tolerate onions. If you like celery and onions and have them around, definitely add them with the green pepper.
Simple dishes like this rely on the excellence of their ingredients. A rich homemade stock adds a real depth of flavor. If you have a crockpot, why aren’t you making your own stock?
Duck and Smoked Sausage Jambalaya
1 lb smoked pork sausage, sliced
1 lb duck breasts, skin removed (or chicken thighs, or turkey), sliced
1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 heaping tsp Cajun seasoning
2 large cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
2 1/2 c duck broth (or chicken), homemade if possible
1 c popcorn rice, or any long-grain rice
Heat a cast-iron dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sausage all at once. Let cook until the sausage begins to brown and a few tablespoons of fat render out. Add the green pepper and stir every few minutes until the green pepper begins to brown. Add the duck or chicken, and continue to cook until the duck begins to brown at the edges. The brown, crispy bits on the bottom of the pot are key to the flavor of this dish, so don’t let it burn! Add the garlic and the Cajun seasoning, and stir constantly just until you can smell the garlic.
Add the stock all at once. Carefully stir, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Sprinkle the rice into the pot evenly. If all the rice is not submerged, shake the pot carefully until all of the rice is well-submerged in the liquid, but do not stir. Bring the whole pot back to a full boil. Put the lid on and turn the heat to low.
Cook on low for 20 minutes. Do not open the lid! After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let the pot settle for another 10 minutes. Do not lift the lid until the full 30 minutes have passed! This allows everything to come together and the rice to finish absorbing the steam. After the 10 minutes of “resting” lift the lid and taste some of the rice. It should be cooked through and fluffy, not mushy, with sufficient salt. Jambalaya should be moist but not soupy. Add additional Cajun seasoning or cayenne pepper if you want, and serve with French bread and Cajun pickles.