Jambalaya’s Cajun spice will warm your winter soul

I know the colder months have me craving different foods, so I want you to cook along with me and try some of the recipes. A warm bowl of jambalaya is all you need to warm your soul.

Cajun food was never on my radar pre-Randy. It’s not a cuisine our Lebanese household ate, and there really aren’t very many restaurants to get Cajun cuisine around here. Randy used to make his sons, Zach and Josh, Cajun foods on Sundays when they were growing up. It’s a family favorite that has become one of mine, too — not just because Randy makes it and gives me the night off but because of the warm, deep, complex flavors of dishes like jambalaya. Plus for some reason, Cajun food just feels festive. I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I’ve heard stories from many people who have about the wild times of drinking, live music and incredible cuisine.

If Cajun is your jam, grab a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven and whip up a batch of this. I have a feeling jambalaya might just earn a spot in your winter meal rotation.

Cajun Jambalaya

3/4 pound chicken, cut to small pieces

3/4 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons chopped garlic

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped bell peppers

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hot sauce

4 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups rice

3/4 pound shrimp (40-50 count is a good size)

Mix chicken and sausage in a bowl with the Cajun seasoning, making certain that the spice is mixed evenly.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the chicken and sausage until lightly browned. Add garlic to the skillet to soften. Add the Cajun holy trinity – onion, bell pepper and celery – and cook until soft.

Add bay leaves, Worcestershire, hot sauce and chicken stock and then bring to a boil. Add rice and reduce heat, cooking covered about 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Add the shrimp into the pot the last 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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