Cold Weather, Warm Kitchen | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Cold Weather, Warm Kitchen

When the weather starts to turn, a big pot of jambalaya warms the soul.

When the weather starts to turn, a big pot of jambalaya warms the soul. Photo by flickr/gromgull

If there’s one thing I love about the temperatures dropping, it’s the fact that it’s time for warm meals. Traditionally, you can make the standard casserole or soup, and your family feasts on leftovers for a couple of days. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a great bowl of hearty chili or a big pot of chicken noodle soup, but I’d like to delve into something a little less traditional when it comes to cold weather foods, and that’s Creole cuisine.

Many people outside Louisiana may not immediately think of Creole or Cajun dishes when they want to cook something that’s warm and hearty during the fall and winter months; however, in Louisiana Creole food, most dishes are served warm. Shrimp creole, shrimp etouffee, red beans and rice, gumbo, and shrimp bisque all have at least one thing in common: they are perfect for serving during the cold-weather months.

Many of us will be having family and friends stopping by throughout the next month or so. Jambalaya is the ideal dish to serve a crowd on one of these cold Mississippi nights. It’s great at parties because people can scoop some into a bowl and serve themselves, but it’s also wonderful for a casual Sunday evening meal.

I’m not a big fan of leftovers, but this recipe gets better after it sits in the refrigerator overnight. It has just the right amount of heat that kids can enjoy, but adults won’t be bored by. Of course, you can always add a few more dashes of hot sauce at the end if you love that extra kick.

Serve this up with some crusty, buttery French bread, sprinkle it with a little garnish of parsley, and watch your loved ones swoon over this perfect cold-weather dish.

Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya


2 large chicken breasts, bone in and skin on, chopped

1 pound peeled, deveined, cooked shrimp

1 link Andouille sausage, sliced (Country Pleasin’ recommended)

2 cups white rice

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

4 Roma tomatoes, chopped

28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes

16-ounce bag frozen okra

4 cups chicken stock

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 bunch celery leaves

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

5 bay leaves

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

3-4 healthy dashes Tabasco

3 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Fill a large pot with six cups of water and add chicken breasts, two tablespoons of salt, one tablespoon of pepper, two bay leaves and celery leaves. Boil for 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, throw sliced sausage in a large stockpot on medium-high heat. Cook for eight to 10 minutes or until browned. Take out sausage and place on paper towels to drain. Add in olive oil, bell pepper, onion, celery, tomatoes and cook for five minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves, Worcestershire, Tabasco, one tablespoon salt and one tablespoon pepper, and cook for another two to three minutes.

Pour in rice and slowly add chicken stock, stirring constantly. Add okra, chicken and sausage, and stir until well combined. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid. If you need more liquid after 20 minutes, use leftover chicken stock from cooking chicken breasts. Add shrimp and let cook for another 5-10 minutes. Turn off heat and serve with hot, fresh, buttered French bread. Use parsley sprigs for garnish and add more hot sauce, if desired.

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