Iconic enough to inspire a classic country song (Hank Williams’
‘Jambalaya (On the Bayou)’), jambalaya is the original fusion cuisine,
a rice and meat concoction with a thousand possible variations.

The word jambalaya is said to combine the French word for ham (jambon) with à la (meaning ‘with’) and ya, a West African word for rice, though this may be apocryphal. Born in Cajun Country Louisiana, it was probably an attempt to make paella without saffron. Local cooks substituted tomatoes for colour and flavour, and the dish became popular among frugal home cooks looking to make a hearty meal with whatever odds and ends were in the house.

You’ll need
2 tsp olive oil
2 boneless chicken breasts,
chopped into 2.5cm (1in)
250g (9oz) Andouille sausage,
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 capsicum (bell pepper),
1 stick celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and
½–1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
400g (14oz) white rice
4 cups (1L) chicken stock
3 bay leaves
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce (such as

Cooking Method
1 In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute chicken and Andouille sausage until lightly browned.
2 Add the onion, capsicum, celery, garlic, cayenne, onion powder and salt and pepper.
3 Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
4 Add the rice, chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
5 Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce and serve.

Tasting notes
Jambalaya is best known as a home-cooked dish, a staple of family Sunday lunches or church picnics. And everyone’s grandmère makes the best version, mais oui! Non-natives can seek jambalaya at the more casual – some might say divey – pubs and late-night haunts of New Orleans. Order a steaming bowl of whatever’s on special that night – gamey rabbit, saltysavoury sausage, sweet crayfish – and chow down, shaking more vinegary Louisiana hot sauce on to taste. Each bite holds dozens of flavours – the freshness of rice, the meaty chew of Andouille, the sting of garlic, the brininess of shrimp. Cool your sizzling taste buds with a chilled Abita ale, brewed just 30 miles away from NoLa.

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