It was the very first recipe blog I wrote a couple of years ago, just something I wanted to share because I thought it was so good. I never thought it would morph into chronicling my journey about learning my way around a kitchen. I never imagined being adept in the kitchen as something that would interest me. I used to think is was too cliche. A few years later I recognize what an art cooking is and success can be tenuous. Like any well developed skill, it takes passion, time, practice and perseverance. For me, the passion came about rather quickly and my blog shares the lessons I’ve learned over time with practice and perseverance.
That being said, let me reintroduce this slow cooker jambalaya recipe since, in my estimation, it is one of the best slow cooker recipes ever! Last time I just posted a picture of the recipe. This time I will add pictures I took while making it, my rating and lessons learned as they are equally if not more important and a printable version of the recipe itself.
We’ve discussed before the benefits and challenges of cooking in a slow cooker. I guarantee you with this recipe the only challenge you’ll have will be fine tuning the cooking time for your particular slow cooker and your part of the country. More and more I realize that my high altitude challenge is not the norm for most, so I will talk about how to do this recipe from the perspective of what works for me. I don’t think altitude plays a factor in this one at all. What will play a factor is the default temperature settings of your slow cooker. That being said, this recipe holds up well to the slow cooking process, has some nice kick to it and makes great leftovers as well.
RATING: A++++++++++++ I cannot say enough about this recipe. It is so easy and really retains its flavor during the slow cooking process. Many times people complain about slow cooker recipes being bland and lacking flavor. Not this one. Try it – I just know it will become a go-to slow cooker recipe!
Lesson Learned 1: VEGETABLES IN A SLOW COOKER: You have to learn what vegetables hold up well during a lengthy cooking process and which ones should be added at a later time. I am still playing around with how do to this. When I made it I put in the onions, peppers, and celery at the very beginning. Next time I think I’ll just start off with the onions and celery. Let’s face it, the celery will not be crisp tender but I think it’s main function is to add flavor to the sauce. Onions, if you cut them large enough, will hold up and also add to the flavor during the longer cooking process. If you add peppers at the beginning, cut them in large chunks otherwise they will become mush. Next time I’m considering adding the peppers during the last hour of cooking to help them retain more body.
LESSON LEARNED 2: CUTTING THE MEAT – It’s important not to cut the meat too small or to large for this recipe. I use a German sausage in this recipe and I cut the links into two inch pieces. I use chicken thighs for this recipe (they tend not to dry out in a slow cooker) and cut them into large bite-size chunks.
LESSON LEARNED: COOKING TIME – The original recipe I used called for the traditional 6-8 hours on low and 4-6 hours on high. My advice is never ever cook this recipe for 8 hours regardless of altitude. Your vegetables will be soggy and your meat dry. Once I made that mistake I decided to change the cooking time to 6 hours on low. Even that produced dried out chicken. Now I cook it for 5 hours on low (the last half hour I raise the temperature to high) and that seems to work well. The sausage is cooked through and the chicken is not dried out. Again, this will depend on the type of slow cooker you have and its default settings for low and high.
LESSON LEARNED 4: SHRIMP – Only put in as much shrimp as you plan to serve immediately. If you save cooked shrimp in the leftovers, chances are they will get tough when you reheat them. It is better to add fresh shrimp during the last 10 minutes of the reheating process for your leftovers. That way the shrimp stays fresh and tender.
LESSON LEARNED 5: ADDING THE OKRA AND SHRIMP – I add the frozen okra and shrimp during the last half hour of the cooking process and for that half hour I change the slow cooker setting to high. The okra comes out crisp tender and the shrimp is cooked perfectly.
Slow Cooker Jambalaya
4-5 chicken thighs (depending on size)
8 oz. uncooked sausage (I prefer a German-style sausage)
1 large sweet pepper
2-3 stalks of celery (depending on size)
1/2 of a large onion
1- 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 – 10 oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (I use the mild version)
2 TBS. quick cooking tapioca
2 TBS. dried basil
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
6 – 12 large shrimp (depending on many you will be serving – I usually plan on 3 per person)
2 cups of frozen cut okra
Prepare the vegetables cutting the onions and peppers into large chunks. The celery can be cut in thin slices. Cut the sausage into links of approximately 2 inches. Cut chicken thighs into large bite-sized chunks. Thaw shrimp if frozen. Keep cool in refrigerator once thawed.
Layer the vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the sausage and chicken. Stir to combine.
Mix together both cans of diced tomatoes, tapioca, basil, and cayenne pepper. Pour on top of the vegetable and meat mixture.
During the last half hour of cooking time, add the okra and shrimp and stir. Change the slow cooker temperature to high and cook for additional half hour. Serve immediately.