Writer and photographer Monica Longenbaker

Authentic, Creole-style Jambalaya is a must for celebrating Mardi Gras this month. Shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage are combined with the Cajun holy trinity (onions, celery and bell peppers) and a spicy tomato sauce to create this crowd-pleasing New Orleans specialty. Closely related to paella, this hearty, one-pot rice dish is influenced by both Spanish and French cuisines, yet has its own bold, distinctly Cajun kick.

Yield: 8-10 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into coins
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1½ cups onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 cup celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup beer (optional)
15 ounces diced tomatoes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 cups chicken stock
1½ cups white rice, uncooked
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper to taste
hot sauce (optional)
chopped parsley or sliced green onions for garnish

Heat half of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the andouille sausage and sauté until brown. Remove the sausage to a separate plate.

In the same pot, add the other half of the olive oil and the diced chicken. Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning over the top of the chicken and sauté until the chicken is brown. (Note: The meat does not need to be cooked through at this point). Remove the chicken onto a separate plate.

Add the diced onions, green bell pepper, celery and garlic to the same pot and sauté over medium heat until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Deglaze the pot with beer (optional).

Add the diced tomatoes, dried thyme, cayenne pepper, chicken stock and the browned sausage and chicken to the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the uncooked rice. Bring the liquid back to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid.

After about 12 minutes, stir in the shrimp. Place the lid back onto the pot and simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the shrimp is fully cooked and the rice is tender.

Serve with hot sauce on the side. If desired, garnish with chopped parsley or sliced green onions.

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