Every once in a while I need a break from cooking my usual family Filipino recipes. Don’t get me wrong. I love them. Filipino food will always be my favorite to eat and cook. However, it can begin to feel like I’m rotating through the same meals after a while. That’s why I like to throw in a new dish every once in a while. A while back I made a stir fry, or my mom’s salad dish or even a little bit of Korean food. But today I’ve got a whole new cuisine to share: Cajun. I’m making my Cast Iron Jambalaya just for y’all.
Jamabalaya is a true blue Louisiana dish, inspired by French and Spanish cooking. The first time I had it was in a restaurant here in Northern Virginia. It was a chain restaurant with absolutely no Cajun theme. It was just something on the menu with shrimp, and I love shrimp. One bite and I was hooked. Now, I hope to one day try real Louisiana jambalaya–New Orleans food map, anyone? Anyway, I love jambalaya because it contains all of my favorite things in one dish–shrimp, meat, rice, and spice.
Traditional versions usually have chicken, shrimp and some kind of sausage–usually andouille. Mine is slightly less traditional in that I used chicken wings, shrimp, and chicken apple sausage. Truthfully, it happened to be in my fridge, and is pretty healthy. I’ve also made the dish using longganisa–a sweet Filipino sausage–which is truly the best way to do it. Anyways, you cook the meats first. DO NOT add the shrimp!! We want to save them until the last few minutes so that they don’t overcook.
For the veggies, I started with the Filipino foundation, garlic and onions. The only difference is that I left the onions pretty big instead of chopping them down like usual. I added a can of diced tomatoes and some green bell peppers. It only occurred to me after making it that celery would also make an excellent addition. Alas, you live and learn. Next time! I added the raw rice and mixed in the Cajun spice blend to coat everything before adding the liquids. The spice blend I have has onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne powder, and chili powder and I bought t in my regular grocery store. If you can’t find the spice blend itself, combine the previously mentioned powders and there ya go!
Let’s talk rice for a minute. Obviously, I love rice. I’m Asian and I named my blog after it. It’s that important. But one of the best things about this dish is that I don’t have to cook the rice separately. Everything is done in the same pot. Gotta love one-pot dinners. I know I do. And what better one-pot is there than a cast iron skillet?! Cast irons make everything crispier, smokier, and just better. Plus it’ll give you that great socarrat at the bottom where the rice forms a crust and comes out crunchy. You could certainly make this in a regular pan with lid and/or a paella pan. Anyway, you cook the rice–and the insides of the meat, by the way–by adding enough chicken stock to cook through everything.
Now, I use chicken broth a lot but for this recipe I used stock instead. Once I was in Costco with my mom and a lady asked me what the difference between stock and broth is. I didn’t really know the answer, so I googled it. Apparently, the difference is what part of chicken is used to make the liquid. Stock comes from the bone and broth from the meat. Bone tends to have more flavor so stock is actually more flavorful. Who knew? Anyways, I wanted that extra kick in every bite so I went for stock. Broth is certainly fine, however.
My jambalaya is certainly not the best there ever was. It may not even be legit. But it is delicious and somewhat traditional. It’s easy to make–after a bit of chopping labor. And it’s even easier to eat. There’s something for everyone, so enjoy it with everyone around you!
Let me know how you like it!
Cast Iron Jambalaya
- 1-2 lbs chicken wings
- 1/2 lb shrimp peeled
- 2 links sausage
- 1 cup onion chopped, large pieces
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 large green bell peppers chopped, large pieces
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 tbsp Cajun spice blend
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups white rice uncooked
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet on high heat. Fry chicken face down for 3-5 minutes until lightly brown. Flip and fry for another 3-4 minutes. Remove to plate.
Lower heat to medium high and fry the sausage until brown or lightly charred, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to plate.
Add a little chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Heat more oil. Saute the garlic and onions until soft and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add and saute the green bell peppers until soft and a little blistered, another 5 minutes. Pour in the canned tomatoes with juices and sweat it out for another few minutes.
Add the raw rice. Mix in the Cajun seasoning until everything is well coated. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover. Let it simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is cooked. Mix occasionally. In the last 10 minutes, add the shrimp and cover. When done, serve hot!