On the Tuesday before Lent begins, we celebrate Mardi Gras in our home. We don beads, wear purple, green and gold, play some jazz, and pretend we’re in New Orleans! I generally make jambalaya at Mardi Gras because good, fresh okra is hard to get in late winter in the Carolinas. (Although if you can find good quality okra, feel free to add it and eliminate the optional gumbo filé powder in step 8.)
Since a real Cajun Jambalaya never uses tomatoes, this is actually more of a Creole Jambalaya. I like to use Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes because they give the dish a bit more of a smoky flavor. I also take a great deal of liberty by calling this “jambalaya” because I cook my rice separately. Classic jambalaya is bit more like paella because the rice is added directly to the pot of stewing stock, vegetables, and meats. This cooking technique allows the rice to absorb flavor while it cooks. However, we prefer brown rice to white rice in our home. Since brown rice takes much longer to cook than white rice, I have not yet figured out the perfect timing of when to add brown rice to the pot—although I’m still working on it!
If you are short on time, you can eliminate sautéing the sausages in step 4 and the seitan in step 5 and put the cut up pieces of sausage and seitan right in the slow cooker. It will be almost as good, and will save you ten precious minutes.
The original version of this recipe appears in Fool a Carnivore. I have made a few modifications to save time in the version which appears here.
My jambalaya might not fool a New Orleans native, but it may well fool your family carnivores. Try serving it with mashed sweet potatoes and a nice Rioja. A Spanish Rioja we particularly like is the 2009 Barón de Barbón Tempranillo Rioja.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1–1½ cups onions, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, sliced lengthwise in halves or thirds, and then finely chopped in ¼-inch pieces
- 1 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- ⅓ cup vegetable stock
- 28-ounce can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 2 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausages (½ package), casings removed
- 2 Field Roast Italian Sausages (½ package), casings removed
- 8-ounce package of WestSoy Seitan Strips
- ½ cup dry white wine or vermouth
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon gumbo filé powder (optional)
- 1½ cups brown rice, cooked for about 55 minutes
- Heat a skillet, and add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook for about 6–7 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the celery and green bell peppers and cook for about 4–5 minutes. Turn down the heat a bit, and add the garlic and bay leaves and cook a minute or so more. Add the stock and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Put a liner in your slow cooker, and add the sautéed vegetables, tomatoes, thyme, hot pepper flakes, and Old Bay. Set the slow cooker on simmer and cover it while you prepare the sausages.
- After removing the casings, slice each sausage lengthwise in half, and then in half again, so you have four long strips. Slice the strips into ½-inch pieces.
- Add the sausages to the empty skillet, and sauté for 2-3 minutes until just beginning to brown. Put the sausage pieces in the slow cooker.
- Depending on their size, you may have to cut some of the seitan strips into slightly smaller pieces. I love their irregular shape, but you may want them smaller. Using the same skillet, sauté the seitan strips for just a minute or so and add to the slow cooker.
- Return the skillet to the burner and add the white wine. Deglaze the pan over medium heat and scrape in all the little scraps of sausage and seitan. Add the contents of the skillet to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for about 5-6 hours.
- Taste carefully and correct seasonings with sea salt and pepper. Add the gumbo filé powder if you're using it and let it cook on warm for a few minutes. Don't cook gumbo filé powder over direct heat or it will get stringy instead of thickening your sauce. Serve over brown rice.
© 2014, Nancy Olah. All Rights Reserved.