I’ve been wanting to make Jambayala since Mardi Gras and finally got around to it, partly because I had some frozen shrimp and shrimp stock in my refrigerator, some red and yellow peppers, a partial can of tomatoes and a little bit of ham. The idea just jumped out of the fridge at me. I’m sure the real Nola folk would laugh at my version but it came from the New York Times (double laugh?).
Jambalaya is like a pilaf or a risotto in that the rice is sautéed in a pan in which you’ve already sautéed vegetables (and in this case ham) in butter and/or oil. Wine and stock are added, along with seasonings. I made the stock from the shells of the shrimp I was adding to the jambalaya supplemented by stock from my freezer. The shrimp is added just at the end. This is the kind of dish my mother called “more-ish.”
Shrimp Jambalaya based on a 2008 recipe from The New York Times
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 c)
½ medium red bell pepper, diced (about ½ c)
½ medium yellow bell pepper, diced (about ½ c)
Optional: ¼ c chopped flavorful aged ham
1 c long grain white rice (or long grain brown rice that has been parboiled for a few minutes to start the cooking process (or you can buy par-boiled rice, not my taste)
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp paprika
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ c dry white wine
¾- 1 c chopped canned (or fresh) tomatoes
3 c (more or less) shrimp stock (see recipe below)
1 lb shrimp, peeled and cleaned, and cut into small pieces if large
¼ chopped parsley
Optional: 1 tbsp chopped chives or scallions
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onions, bell pepper and ham (if using) in the warmed olive oil over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown slightly.
Add the rice, garlic, peppers and thyme and stir to coat the rice in the oil.
Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Add 2 c of the stock, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered for about 20 minutes, checking that it doesn’t dry out and adding stock (or water) if it does.
Add the shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes until it turns pink. Stir and set aside for the liquid to absorb fully, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. (I don’t add salt but if you do, add it at the end.) Garnish with parley and scallions or chives as you wish.
Serves at least 4.
Shrimp shells, rinsed
Onions, garlic, other ingredients optional
Peel the shells from the shrimp, rinse and pat dry. Saute the vegetables, if you’re using them, in a little olive oil to soften. Add the shrimp shells and turn up the heat, stirring the shells until they turn pink. Add a splash of white wine and let it evaporate. Add enough water barely to cover the shrimp shells and cook slowly, partially covered, for about 20 minutes. Drain, pressing down on the shells to capture the trapped flavor but not so much as to render the stock cloudy. Can be frozen.