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Chicken, sausage, and mushroom jambalaya, the harissa version

Filed under: Cooking and Drinking,Food — jet @ 20:09

I’m guessing that every “rice culture” has a version of this dish.  At Mintt they have a great selection of biriyani, the Indian version of this dish.  Jambalaya is similar to Korean bi bim bap but different in how it’s prepared.

So this is a riff on a classic Cajun dish, jambalaya.  It’s tweaked to remove a couple of things I don’t like and I’ve made some other changes based on what I can find at the grocery stores here in Pittsburgh.  I like spicy food (Tabasco is on the table next to salt and pepper), but I’ve never really gotten the level of spice you find in a good biriyani.  Until I discovered harissa and gave it a try.  Wow.

One of the interesting things about jambalaya is that we cook the rice in the pot with the rest of the food.  This moves flavors from ingredients to rice as the water boils in the oven, it’s not like boiling some rice and dumping chili on top.  (What I just did for dinner while I’m writing this…)

To make this you need a cast iron dutch oven.  I have a vintage 10 1/4 quart #8 oven, but you can find plenty of new ones on amazon at decent prices.  The main difference between vintage cast iron and a new one, say, a Lodge, is that the newer one was probably made in a factory and weighs more than the vintage one.   (How to prepare and care for cast iron is going to be a different post that probably pisses off just about everybody.)

This makes about 6-8 servings depending on other things you put on the table.  I eat a serving after I cook it then stick 5 more in the freezer in plastic containers, each one is an easy meal to microwave while I’m working.


  • 1# chicken cut down to bite-sized pieces. I usually use a breast and a thigh.
  • 12 oz of andouille sausage sliced to 1/4″ pieces.  Trader Joe’s sells a good, pre-cooked chicken andouille sausage
  • large white onion chopped down to 10mm pieces
  • 15 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Tabasco
  • 2 cups long grain rice.  I prefer Zatarain’s.  Louisiana long grain isn’t like Indian basmati rice, it’s more fluffy.
  • 4 cups water
  • can of diced tomatoes, I’m good with 12-14 oz
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 oz “baby bella” mushrooms, quartered. I like these a lot more than the generic brown, canned mushrooms.
  • 1 teaspoon Harissa, I use the Trader Joe’s brand but there’s always amazon.
  • olive oil or avocado oil


  1. Set the oven to 200C (400F).
  2. In the cast iron pot, brown the chicken with as little oil as possible, then move the chicken to a resting place.  If you are using uncooked sausage, brown it at the same time.  Don’t try to cook the chicken all the way through, just the outer skin.  This is a “dry” dish where the rice soaks up all the water, so you want the chicken to be moist.
  3. In the cast iron pot, saute the onion and garlic on med/low heat.  You don’t want to brown it, just break it down a bit, this takes about 5min on my stove.
  4. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes, and Tobasco.  I use about 10 “dashes” of Tobasco, cook another few minutes, at most 5 or 6 min.
  5. Add the chicken, sausage, rice, and water; crank up the heat, and wait for it to boil.
  6. Kill the heat and stir in the mushrooms and harissa.  (TODO: try adding the harissa in step #4.)
  7. Put on the lid, put it in the oven, let it cook ~45 min.
  8. When removing from the oven BE CAREFUL.  It weighs at least 5 pounds and is hot enough to give you a nasty burn.

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