Father’s Day is coming up this weekend, so I thought I’d share one of our favorite new dinners that the dad in our house is especially fond of. When we lived in New Orleans, one of my favorite local dishes to order was jambalaya. I’ve had some good jambalayas, some pretty bad jambalayas and some rock star jambalayas. It’s not that it’s a difficult thing to make, it just seems that every place has its own little version of it, some better than others. I guess that since I’d only had a few versions of it that truly knocked my socks off, I’ve been hesitant to make it myself. This all changed when I ran across this recipe in an old, back issue of Cuisine at Home magazine.
It’s the perfect special dinner recipe for summer and would be great to entertain with. Everything is cooked in foil packets on the grill! You don’t need to heat up the kitchen at all, and I’m a big fan of anything in the summer that lets me avoid turning on my oven. The only thing you may need the stove top for is the rice, but if you have a rice cooker like I do, your kitchen will stay nice and cool.
I started by chopping up loads of veggies. Celery, onion, a yellow bell pepper, some cherry tomatoes, parsley, and some garlic went under the knife. The recipe also called for okra. I know some of you might be squeamish about okra, and I totally get that. It can be slimy and pretty gross. If you cook it properly, though, it’s great! My grocery store was out of fresh okra when I went shopping, so I bought some frozen whole okra and sliced it up into 3/4 inch chunks to add to my veggie mix. I sliced it up while it was frozen, so I could avoid a sliming. When it was all cooked up, it was perfect. No slime in sight!
After the veggies were ready, I mixed them in a bowl with some sliced andouille sausage and some shredded chicken. Andouille sausage is a familiar ingredient if you’re a frequent Cajun cook, but if you haven’t run across it before, know you can probably find it in your grocer’s meat department. Andouille is a smoked pork sausage that’s a little spicier than the regular smoked sausage you might be used to. It’s delicious and if you don’t mind the spice, I highly suggest you use it here. If you aren’t into the spicy stuff, you could substitute smoked kielbasa. (Just don’t tell my friends in Louisiana that you did.)
As for the chicken, I bought a rotisserie chicken and shredded up all of the meat. I used a cup of the meat for this dish, threw the rest in a freezer bag and popped it into the freezer for another day.
Once the veggies, chicken, and sausage were mixed up, I got to work on my shrimp. The original recipe called for 12 jumbo shrimp. My grocery store didn’t have any jumbo shrimp that day, so I settled on 3/4 of a lb. of cleaned shrimp. It’s worked out just fine. I stirred the shrimp together with some brown sugar, olive oil, paprika, Tabasco, and some salt and pepper.
Now, it was time to build my packets for the grill. I tore off four sheets of tin foil that were 18×18 inches and lined them up on my counter top. Then, I split the veggie-chicken-sausage mixture among the four sheets and then topped each pile with a 1/4 of the shrimp. I finished each packet off with a few cubes of butter before sealing them up nice and tight.
I made sure to crimp the edges of each packet really well, so that nothing could dribble out and the steam wouldn’t escape. They went onto the grill and cooked for about ten minutes, until each packet had puffed up considerably.
I took them off the grill and then let them rest for a few minutes before carefully opening them up. Be really careful when you open up these packets! Steam burns are no fun!!
Once I opened the packets up, I had beautifully cooked shrimp, sausage and veggies in front of me that smelled wonderful, just like I’d remembered from New Orleans. Everything was cooked just right and we were eager to dive in.
I spooned the jambalaya over some fluffy white rice, sprinkled some green onions on top, and served it up with some crusty French bread. It was DELICIOUS. Aaron was so impressed that he said he wants to make sure he asks for it for dinner on his next birthday…which isn’t until next April. I’m pretty sure I can make it again for him before that. Thankfully, the kids loved it too! There was enough variety for everyone, and I was tickled that I’d found a jambalaya that lived up to my spoiled New Orleans standards.
SUMMERTIME GRILLED JAMBALAYA
Adapted from Cuisine at Home
- 8 oz. andouille sausage, cut diagonally into ½" thick slices
- 1 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
- 1 cup onion, sliced
- 1 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
- ⅔ cup celery, thinly sliced
- ⅔ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- ⅔ cup okra, sliced into ¾" thick rounds (frozen works really well)
- 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- ¾ lb. peeled, and cleaned shrimp
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. paprika
- ¼ tsp. Tabasco sauce
- 2 Tbsp. butter, cold and cubed
- salt and pepper
- hot cooked rice
- chopped green onions and lemon wedges for garnish
- Preheat your grill to medium.
- Toss the sausage, chicken, vegetables, garlic, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the shrimp with the brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, Tabasco sauce, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Lay 4 pieces of 18x18 inch aluminum foil on a flat surface. Divide the sausage and vegetable mixture up between the 4 foil pieces. Then, top each pile with a fourth of the shrimp. Place 3 cubes of butter on top of the shrimp.
- Fold each piece of foil over the jambalaya so that the edges meet, then crimp the edges tightly to seal the packets well.
- Place the packets on the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes, until puffed. Remove them from the grill and let them sit for 2-3 minutes before opening. Carefully open the packets and spoon the jambalaya over the cooked rice.
- Garnish with sliced green onions and lemon wedges.