The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

February 26, 2014

Mardi Gras at home: Classic Cajun dish easily customized for any region

JOPLIN, Mo. — The sad fact of the matter is, most of us won't make it to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras. But that's no reason to forsake some of the city's classic cuisine.

This year, honor Mardi Gras by making jambalaya at home. It's the perfect dish for out-of-towners: It's easy, it's weeknight- and kid-friendly, and it's extremely versatile.

While there are several basic approaches to jambalaya -- Creole and Cajun among them -- there really are endless variations on this dish of rice, meat and seafood.

So we decided to put a local spin on jambalaya, with variations playing up ingredients drawn from New England, the Southwest and the West Coast.

Just follow the base recipe, adding in the local ingredients of your choice (see the variations below the recipe). And don't hesitate to mix and match.

The beauty of a dish like this is that it will be delicious pretty much whichever direction you head.



Jambalaya across the country

This is a have-it-your-way approach to jambalaya. Follow the base recipe below, adding the local variations where indicated. Our suggestions for those variations are listed below the base recipe, but feel free to substitute the ingredients of your choice.

Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 12

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large yellow onions, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound sausage (see below)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 cups crushed fire-roasted tomatoes

Regional variation of vegetable and seasonings (see below)

2 cups long-grain white rice, such as basmati

2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth

3 bay leaves

1 pound seafood (see below)

Salt and ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions, green pepper, celery, red pepper flakes and sausage (see below). Cook, stirring, until browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the chicken, tomatoes, vegetable and seasonings (see below), rice, chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Add the seafood and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the seafood is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the bay leaves before serving.

Text Only
Lifestyles
Speaking of Gardens

Facebook
Poll

A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

Yes
No
     View Results
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter