I've been using the crockpot more and more for cooking at work. It lets me budget my time more effectively. I can prepare the meal the night before, when I usually have free time, instead of trying to rush to get it done in time. This realization has led to many the experimental meals, most of which have turned out fairly good. But this one has to be one of my favorites. It isn't exactly a traditional jambalaya (since the rice is cooked separate and added at the end), but is still very tasty.
Creole Style Crockpot Jambalaya
1 lb sausage (I like to use Colosimo's brand chorizo, but andouille is more traditional)
2 lb chicken breasts or tenders, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 lb ham, cubed
2 TB butter
1/2 stalk celery, diced
3 or 4 large carrots, diced (or about 1/2 a bag of the baby carrots)
1 large onion, diced
2 large bell peppers, diced (I like to use one red and one green)
Cajun spice blend
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth or stock (stock is better, but take what you can get)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 lb small shrimp, tailed and shelled
4-6 cups cooked rice
Fresh parsley, minced
Salt and pepper
1- Brown sausages on medium heat in a large skillet. Do not cut them up or puncture the skin. You want to save the tasty interior juices for the rest of the jambalaya. Once browned, transfer to a very large crockpot and cut into bite sized pieces using kitchen shears.
2- Brown the chicken in the same skillet, if there isn't enough grease left from the sausages then use a little butter. You'll probably have to do this is batches so the pan doesn't get over crowded. Once browned, transfer to crockpot with the sausage.
3- Just quickly sear the ham in the same pan. Shouldn't take much time at all. Transfer it to the crock pot.
4- Sautee the vegetables(celery, carrots, onion, peppers) in the butter, using the same pan. Try to scrape up and incorporate anything the meats left behind in the pan. Once the veggies are starting to soften add in the Cajun spice. (If you want there to be any taste of it left after crockpot cooking you better add a ton. I put in 3-4 TB to make it about medium heat. It seems like a lot, but the crockpot blands everything out.) Coat the veggies in the spice. You're trying to bloom it in the butter and make it stick to the veggies.
5-When the veggies are covered in spice and fairly soft add in the stock and tomatoes. You want to de-glaze the pan and incorporate all the nice fond you've built up into your liquid. So really scrape the bottom of that pan (don't scratch it if it's non-stick though!). After a couple minutes on medium heat everything should be pretty well incorporated. Dump the veggie/liquid mix into the crockpot with the meat and stir it up to mix everything together.
6- At this point I would usually leave it in the fridge overnight, but you could start it right away. Set the crockpot on high heat for about 3 hours.
7- When the time is almost up you'll want to get your rice cooked. Make it with just a little bit less water than normal. If it's a little dry then it'll soak up the jambalaya liquid better.
8- Right before you're ready to serve the jambalaya, you'll want to sautee the shrimp in butter. Make sure to get them fully cooked. It should just take a couple minutes, depending on the size of shrimp. Add the cooked shrimp to the crockpot and mix to incorporate fully. Let stand for a couple minutes, and garnish with a little chopped parsley.
9- Serve over the cooked rice. I should be very tasty now.
This isn't exactly a health conscious, or vegetarian friendly recipe, but it is quite good. I think it's the perfect sort of meal for the cold winter, maybe even for a reading of The Cajun Night Before Christmas. Laissez les bon temps rouler!