Jambalaya is a simple classic that's difficult to make quick. Traditionally a one-pot meal, it involved minimum cleaning but a lot of waiting. In the age of dishwashers, I rather have two more dishes than an hour long wait. I have had great luck making it the easy way - put some parboiled rice in the rice cooker, get started on the protein and aromatics, and add cooked rice to the spiced base.
Since taking on the challenge to speed up this dish into a 15-minute recipe, I've eaten a good number of less than satisfactory test batches. Unlike grits and polenta, the microwave could not save the day on this one. Due to the lower water ratio in cooking, the uneven heating from microwave is particularly noticeable on rice, which unlike cornmeal, is expected to come out dry and fluffy. with the inconsistency of microwave, it's too easy to get a soggy, mushy mess, somehow with under-cooked grains in the same batch.
The alternative I found, that does work here, is cooking rice like pasta. This works particularly well with long grain rice, which cooks kinda like orzo pasta. Just boil rice in ample water (at least 4x by volume), drain when it's al dente, and finish it in a spiced sauce. Like pasta, cooking time can differ by brand and variety, some rice finishes in 8 minutes, some finishes in 12. I use primarily jasmine rice, mostly for the aromatic flavor, but also because it reliably cooks soft in ~10 minutes.
A jambalaya is a busy dish, so I have a bit of a streamlined process. If you do these in the right order, you should be able to multithread most of the cooking process. Start your rice in boiling water and proteins in the airfryer. By the time your vegetables are chopped and cooked down with the spice and broth, your rice and protein should be ready to be mixed in.
There are different varieties of jambalaya. The Creole "red" jambalaya would have crushed tomatoes added and a more saucy, photogenic appearance. But taste-wise, my personal preference is marginally but firmly with the more spice-forward Cajun "brown" jambalaya. If you haven't tried either, both are delicious and worth making at least once, so you can decide which way you prefer.
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
- 6oz andouille sausage
- 5oz chicken
- 5oz shrimps
- 1tsp olive oil
- 1 cup onions, diced
- 1/2 cup celeries, diced
- 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup jalapeno, diced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1tsp olive oil
- Cook rice in salted boiling water, set a timer for 10 min.
- Make spice blend.
- Season shrimp and chicken with ~1tsp of spice blend and olive oil. Airfry at 380F for 8min.
- Chop up the onions/celeries/pepper, stir fry until softened.
- Add remaining spice blend. Fry until fragrant.
- Add chicken broth, heat on high and bring to a boil.
- Drain cooked, slightly al dente rice. Stir into the broth base, cover the rice in spiced broth.
- Chop the cooked proteins into bite size and fold them into the rice mix.
- Cook until liquid dries up and rice is tender. Enjoy!