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Celebrate Mardi Gras with Creole jambalaya

You don’t need to live in Louisiana to enjoy jambalaya. But perhaps nowhere is jambalaya more serious business than it is in the Pelican State. Cajun jambalaya might be the dish most familiar to the masses, but Creole jambalaya is just as tasty.

Creole chefs in New Orleans serve this type of jambalaya, which is different from the Cajun dish due to the inclusion of tomatoes. Tomatoes might have been hard to come by in the Louisiana bayous, which might be why there were not included in traditional Cajun jambalaya recipes. Mardi Gras and its focus on food and drink is a perfect time to explore one’s culinary horizons, and those curious about Creole jambalaya can do just that by whipping up this recipe from Neal Corman and Chris Peterson’s “Virgil’s Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook” (St. Martin’s Press).

Jambalaya

Serves 4 to 6

Seasoning Mix

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1 1⁄4 teaspoons cracked black pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1⁄4 teaspoons sweet paprika

1⁄2 teaspoon dried basil

1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried thyme

3⁄4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 1⁄2 teaspoons onion powder

1 1⁄2 teaspoons garlic powder

Jambalaya

2 pounds boneless, skin-on chicken thighs

12 shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail on

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1⁄4 cup olive oil, divided

5 ounces andouille sausage, finely diced

4 ounces Tasso ham, finely diced

2 cups finely diced yellow onions

1 cup finely diced celery

1 1⁄2 cups finely diced green bell pepper

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

3 dried bay leaves

1 3⁄4 cups converted rice

2 cups finely diced fresh plum tomatoes

1 cup clam juice

2 cups chicken stock

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a small bowl, blend the seasoning mix together and set aside.

2. Cut each chicken thigh in half, and evenly dust the thighs with 11⁄2 tablespoons of the seasoning mix. Dust the shrimp with about 11⁄2 teaspoons of the mix.

3. In a low and wide 6-quart (or larger) stockpot, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sauté the shrimp for about 1 minute per side. Remove the shrimp and set aside.

4. Repeat the process with the chicken, using the remaining oil. Remove the chicken and set aside.

5. In the same pot, brown the sausage and ham. Add the remaining butter, onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and bay leaves, and cook for 4 minutes.

6. Add the rice, stirring to coat it with the mixture. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes more.

7. Add the clam juice, chicken stock and chicken thighs. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, and then check the rice for tenderness and ensure the chicken is cooked through.

8. Fold in the shrimp and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, taste, add salt and pepper, as desired, and serve.