Paleo Jambalaya with Cauliflower Rice
Jambalaya is a Cajun or Creole one pot dinner, a thick dish of rice with almost any combination of meat and vegetables. (Creole with tomatoes, Cajun without if I remember correctly) There are usually at least two meats and at minimum onion, celery, carrots, and bell pepper.
I’ve been told that meats can include anything that walks, crawls, flies or swims, so what could be more paleo than that? You just have to paleo-ize that rice and use cauliflower instead. In this recipe the cauli-rice doesn’t have to be cooked first but can go right in the stew pot. **
Jambalaya is usually pretty spicy with black pepper and cayenne pepper, but the heat can be toned down for milder tastes and those who like it hotter can add hot pepper sauce or chile flakes.
This recipe sounds complicated but it is easy. If you have a helper in the kitchen to help chop the veggies and devein the shrimp, it is fairly quick to make– the actual cooking time is about 25 or 30 minutes. A bag of frozen mirepoix mix or frozen cooked shrimp will speed up prep time, too.
This recipe can be made in a crock pot but will have better flavor and color if meats and vegetables are browned first. I prefer to use a large, deep, heavy skillet. A cast iron dutch oven is often recommended but not required. If you only have a smaller skillet, you can brown your veggies and meat in batches and move them to the stew pot. The meat and veggies don’t have to be completely cooked, just browned a bit on the outside– because they will finish cooking in the stew pot.
Lightly brown chicken (boneless breasts or thighs are quickest, but you could use pieces and remove meat from bone) in coconut oil, bacon grease, or fat of choice over medium-high heat (or use any leftover cooked meat) Substitute about a pound of any meat or combination of meats you wish. Remove from skillet and cut into bite size pieces; then put it in a large pot with 2 or 3 cups chicken broth or stock and the diced tomatoes. Season the broth with about 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. fresh ground black pepper, 1/4 t. sage, 2 bay leaves***, 1/4 t. dry mustard, and 1/4 to 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. Add paprika, thyme, chili powder, parsley flakes, garlic powder if desired. Simmer.
Brown sliced andoille sausage in the same skillet, then add to soup pot.
Add more fat to the pan if needed and start sauteing vegetables. Add the carrots to the pan first, then the celery, bell peppers, and zucchini, ending with the onion and garlic. Throw in some mushrooms or even some chopped spinach, kale or chard if you wish. If the skillet is too crowded, move some of the veggies to the stew pot and continue. If you are short on time, just throw all the veggies in the pot with an extra cup of water or broth and simmer. Exception: even if you put everything in the stew pot or crock pot without frying it, do fry the okra–by itself– because it will help keep it from being slimy, and that’s why people don’t usually like it. After the okra starts to brown you can put it in with everything else.
Add the cauli-rice to the pot and bring to a boil. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Last thing in the pot will be your shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed. (or substitute crawdads or cubes of any white fish. ) You might need to add another cup of broth or water. The dish should be fairly thick but you need enough liquid to steam the shrimp or fish. Cover and cook until the shrimp are done or the fish is flaky.
**The cauliflower rice in the photo was chopped quickly by hand. You can make it look more like rice if you wish by chopping it finer or using a food processor, but we were hungry and didn’t really care!
***Watch for the bay leaves as you are serving, or try to fish them out first, as they have a spine that doesn’t soften and can poke.