Jambalaya Jazz

Food and Travel, In Season, Mardi Gras, Regional Food, Winter
on February 21, 2012
Mark Boughton/styling: Teresa Blackburn

Louisianan jambalaya may take center stage during Mardi Gras, but our tender and versatile recipes deserve to be classics year-round.

Born of Cajun-Creole soul and bred on Southern soil, jambalaya has been king of the Louisiana bayous for centuries. Originating from the French word for ham jambon (or perhaps from the Spanish jamon), jambalaya has a history more muddled than its signature toss of rice, meat and seasonings.

But what we know for certain is this Mardi Gras classic is a crowd-pleasing dish with a versatility much greater than its ham-derived heritage. Jambalaya’s base can vary from rice to quinoa and star one or a variety of meats such as chicken, sausage, pork, seafood and even duck. To pump up the color and flavor of the meal, bright vegetables and spicy southern spices are almost always added to the one-pot meal.

Jambalaya is often prepared in a Dutch oven where the dish can stew and simmer, but in today’s world of modern convenience, we can easily hand over jambalaya-cooking duties to our trusty Crock-Pots.

Whatever method you settle on, dine New Orleans style during Mardi Gras season and throughout the year with the following eclectic Jambalaya recipes.

—By Emily Arno