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Creole-Style Shrimp Jambalaya

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Serves 6

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 121

A creole-style (red) jambalaya always includes tomatoes. I like using tomato paste instead of canned or fresh tomatoes because it adds deeper flavor and gives the finished dish a rich hue. The shrimp are cooked for a long time, which may seem odd, but this method yields a flavorful jambalaya with tender—never mushy—shrimp. If you can find head-on shrimp, this is the place to use them; just remove and discard the heads at the point in the recipe where you peel and devein the shrimp.

  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1 cup), trimmings reserved
  • 3 medium stalks celery, finely chopped (about 1 cup), trimmings reserved
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup), trimmings reserved
  • 2 lb. large (31 to 35 per lb.) shrimp, preferably wild-caught
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 lb. ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • Hot sauce, preferably Crystal (optional)

In a 4-quart heavy-duty saucepan, combine the scallion trimmings, celery trimmings, and onion trimmings with 5-1/2 cups of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp, let the water return to a boil, and cook until pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 3 minutes. Strain through a sieve set over a large glass measuring cup, reserving the stock. You will need 4-1/2 cups of stock, so add water if necessary. When cool enough to handle, peel and devein the shrimp. Discard the shells and trimmings.

Melt the butter in a 5- to 6-quart enameled cast-iron Dutch oven (or other heavy-duty pot) over medium-high heat. Add the celery, onion, and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the ham and the reserved shrimp and cook, stirring often, until any excess moisture evaporates and the ham and vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until a shade darker, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bay leaf, thyme, cayenne, chili powder, allspice, cloves, and 1-1/2 tsp. salt. Stir in the rice. Add the reserved stock and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, undisturbed, just until the rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Check the rice for doneness in several places.

Remove the pot from the heat. Sprinkle the paprika over the jambalaya and, using a fork, gently fluff the scallions and paprika into the jambalaya. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes to let the flavors meld. Serve with hot sauce, if you like.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 530; Fat (g): fat g 11; Fat Calories (kcal): 100; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 6; Protein (g): protein g 41; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 62; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 760; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 255; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

My preference, when a dish combines rice and vegetables, is to use a rough chop, so that everything is not the same size, which is the problem with this dish. Here, nothing is distinguishable. Also, I found it somewhat dry. If I try it again, I'll use a can of fire-roasted chopped tomatoes, as well as larger pieces of celery, onions and peppers. Which, I guess, makes it a different dish.

This was fantastic! Easy, and SO flavorful. Made it as written except that I did make a real stock the 2nd time with the shrimp shells, cooked it about 1/2 hr before adding to the shrimp and rice. I love the flavor of the stock, and just enough heat with the wonderful spicing! Will make this a lot!

Great recipe! Everyone from my 84 yr old mother who can't eat spicy food to a picky daughter loved it!I used chicken thighs/breasts in addition to shrimp and brown rice instead of white.Wonderful flavor. I didn't have a big enough pot so I cooked it in the oven in a heavy roaster and it was perfect.No burnt pot or mushy rice. Definitely a keeper!

I have made this recipe twice now. It's really good and has a fresh, clean flavor to it. I've made it with headless shrimp and with head-on shrimp. The head-on shrimp darken the broth much more than the headless. I have had problems with the rice burning to the bottom of my dutch oven, which is why I gave it only 4 stars. Overall very good and a keeper.

Made it just as written and it was delicious. I used jasmine rice. It was a nice change from my normal jambalaya that has chicken and andouille. It does have a 'mushy' result, like a potluck casserole, but I think that is a good thing! Cooking the rice separately as the previous reviewer mentioned and adding some of the remaining broth if you have any would make it more of a stew/soup if that's your preference. I will definitely make this one again.

4 stars because the rice got mushy. Excellent flavor. The broth was not too fishy, either. I added Old Bay to the shrimp broth. Next time I will cook the rice separately. This is really as good as my other jambalaya recipe that takes all day! I'll make it again.

I made this last night and it was, honestly, one of the best recipes I have made in a LONG time. Virtually everyone loved it, from my 8 year old son ("I actually LIKE this!") to my 68 year old father. I will definitely have to double or triple this recipe next time. There is barely any left today and it is sad because it will also be great as leftovers.

We made this Jambalaya for the wild card playoff between the Packers and the Vikings...go Green Bay! Anyway, this was very easy to prepare and the end result was very good and was a very balanced dish in terms of the spice/ heat. We did not use ham, the substitute we used was Usingers spicy chicken sausage. The only reason we went for the four stars vs. the five stars was that the rice was a tad mushy...we used a long grain Texmati light brown rice...perhaps that is why, not sure. Still, this is a keeper recipe and will be part of our rotation! By the way, making the stock is brilliant and we are convinced this helped to balance the flavor so nicely.

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