Need some culinary Mardi Gras inspiration? What’s a more authentic way to feast than a Jambalaya? This recipe is from Muhammad Ali’s boxing daughter, Laila (the article appeared in a recent Parade Sunday supplement.) She has been a real foodie since her wonder years and has competed on Chopped, hosted the FYI show Late Nite Chef Fight, and cooked on TV with everybody from Paula Deen to Steve Harvey, but the new Food for Life, released January 23, is her first cookbook—and just to be clear, not a diet book.
Unfortunately, we won’t be going down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and chances are most of you won’t be either. But that doesn’t have to stop us all from enjoying some great Mardi Gras food. There are two general kinds of jambalaya: Creole and Cajun.
The main difference is that Creole jambalaya, which we are making here, also called “red jambalaya” uses tomatoes, Cajun jambalaya does not. You might say Cajun jambalaya is the love child of risotto and paella. But both styles utilize what’s referred to as the “holy trinity”—onion, celery, and bell pepper (usually green). BTW, a good andouille sausage is D’Artagnan, all-natural smoked heritage breed pork. It contains no antibiotics, no added hormones, or nitrates/nitrites.
“It’s not about eating one style of food; it’s about eating whole foods, incorporating a lot of vegetables and natural foods into your lifestyle. And I do also have a chapter that’s like the next-level stuff for people who want to take that next step into things like bone broth and making your own fermented foods to keep your gut healthy and things like that.”
~Laila Ali, Food For Life
This was a job for “Big Red” our trusty Le Creuset cast-iron enameled pot. She’s been a stalwart of our culinary arsenal for many years now and we can always count on her to to get the job done. Don’t get freaked by the number of ingredients or the complexity of the name, Laila’s Jambalaya is pretty easy to make. So get your Creole on, get cooking, and let the good times roll…
- 1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tsp sea salt, divided
- ¾ tsp smoked paprika ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium shallots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
- 1½ tsp garlic powder
- Cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth or water, plus more as needed
- 1 ⁄3 cup canned tomato puree
- 8 oz smoked andouille sausage, cut crosswise into ½-inch slices
- 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3 cups cooked brown rice
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
- Place chicken in a large bowl; season with ½ tsp salt, paprika and pepper. Let stand 30 minutes while prepping other ingredients.
- In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium. Add chicken; cook, undisturbed, 5 minutes. Stir; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned on second side. Transfer chicken to a bowl.
- Add remaining 1 Tbsp oil to pan. Add onion, shallots, celery and bell pepper. Cook 10 minutes or until tender and starting to brown, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in garlic powder and a pinch of cayenne, if desired. Cook 1 minute, scraping bottom of pan to prevent spices from sticking. Add broth.
- Increase heat and scrape up any browned bits stuck to bottom of pan. Add chicken and juices, tomato puree and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
- Add sausage, shrimp and remaining ½ tsp salt. Increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are nearly done (when they’re pink and opaque) and sausage is warmed through.
- Slowly stir in rice. Add a little more broth if jambalaya looks dry (it should be saucy, not soupy). Remove from heat, cover and let stand 10 minutes. Stir in parsley. Serve garnished with extra parsley.