A style of red Creole jambalaya with deep flavors from tomatoes and smoked paprika that will leave your home smelling wonderful.
By Tux Loerzel
Last Saturday when I got home from work I started making dinner.
I cut up some broccoli, crisped up some bacon, made a béchamel, boiled some noodles, and grated a heaping pile of aged Irish cheddar. After mixing all the ingredients for my homemade macaroni and cheese together I turned the oven on to preheat while I melted a little butter for my bread crumb topping.
With the weighty casserole ready to go into the oven to bubble and crisp, I reached down to open the oven door. That’s when I noticed it wasn’t hot. Panic.
Though you wouldn’t know if from the number of baked goods I turn out of my kitchen, I have been having trouble with my oven for over a year. After months of dealing with it I finally figured out that if I switched on the range it would trick the oven to turning back on and I’d be in business.
That is, until the night that I had a big dish of macaroni and cheese waiting to bake. No amount of trickery or tinkering could induce my ancient apartment oven to turn on.
A broken oven. My worst nightmare.
I wanted to cry.
I wrapped the macaroni and cheese up and put it into the refrigerator, crossing my fingers that it would miraculously work again the next day. Nope.
A few days later we finally got a repair man in to take a look. After less than five minutes of tinkering he blithely says, “Oh it’s just a blown fuse.”
I had just enough time to breath a sigh of relief before he continued, “Of course I don’t have one with me, and it’s out of stock. We’ll have to order it. We’ll call you in a few days.”
Way to toy with my fragile emotions Mr. Evil Repair Man. After he left I microwaved a bowl of never-baked macaroni and cheese and cried into it.
Another day passed before I heard back from them, and just my luck, this tiny stupid fuse is backordered from the manufacturer and they don’t know when it’ll be back in stock. What are the chances?
I could use this as an opportunity to make no-bake recipes and experiment with any number of savory stove top recipes. But, of course in the absence of my oven, all I want to do is bake. I even want to bake things I would normally do on the stove top! I’m suddenly overwhelmed by cravings for baked eggs, roasted chicken, twice baked potatoes, roasted cauliflower. My urge to bake cookies, usually strong enough already, is suddenly all consuming.
Wallowing rather than overcoming, I can’t think of a single thing that I could share here that wouldn’t require a functional oven. Forget the fact that at least half or more of the recipes I’ve posted up until now haven’t.
Then, one morning I wake up and suddenly I NEED to make jambalaya. I consult my favorite recipe to make a few tweaks. I consult other recipes to see what else could be improved on.
My recipe hunt turned up so many different variations on jambalaya that I decided to turn to Wikipedia for some clarification. As it turns out, there are actually three distinct varieties of jambalaya, depending on the regions they come from and the ingredients used.
The style I made is called a red Creole jambalaya, or a city Creole jambalaya. This is the most common style, and the main difference between this and other varieties is the use of tomatoes. The less common rural Creole jambalaya is almost identical but uses no tomatoes in the recipe. The third, and even less common variety is the Cajun or “white” jambalaya, in which the rice is cooked in broth separately from the meat and vegetables and combined just before serving.
Most people believe Creole red jambalaya was created as a way to make Spanish Paella without using saffron which was very hard to come by at the time. Tomatoes were added in place of the saffron for flavor, but eventually the other two styles came about without the tomatoes.
The house smells completely heavenly while this bubbles away on the stovetop (and not in the oven), and the flavor could not be more amazing. Tender rice, perfectly cooked shrimp, soft cooked vegetables, and andouille with a nice bit of bite. The fresh herbs, crushed tomatoes, and spices combine to make one of the most flavorful dishes I’ve had in a long time. Using smoked paprika really makes a difference to impart a nice smoky depth to the dish and the cayenne adds a welcome bit of heat.
Depending on how spicy you like things, the heat level can definitely be adjusted to your taste. I like mine quite spicy so I used the full teaspoon of cayenne. One teaspoon might not sound like much, but a little goes a long way and gave this big pot of jambalaya some serious heat. Feel free to scale it back to 1/2 or even 1/4 teaspoon if you can’t take the heat, but I beg you not to skip it altogether or you’re not doing it right!Print
Tux is a food blogger, photographer, dog lover, husband, and avid baker living in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Originally from upstate New York, he inherited his love of cooking and baking from his mother and grandmother. With the encouragement of good friends and several glasses of wine, he began his food writing and blogging adventure in the fall of 2013. Learn more about Tux at his blog Brooklyn Homemaker