With Madri Gras coming up, I turn to one of my favorite New Orleans dishes, jambalaya.  It might not quite be “gourmet,” but it sure is good eats. Filling, spicy, and easily adaptable to whatever you may happen to have in the fridge, it’s a great winter dish that you can fix up to fit your fancy. The recipe I use for a jumping off point is from Emeril Lagasse, that cajun/creole celebrity chef (even though, you know, he grew up in my home state of Massachusetts). Now, I’m not particularly fond of Emeril’s Food Network shows, but I’ve always found that when I make his recipes, they’re good.

I’ve adapted his recipe for jambalaya a bit, by using andouille and ham as my proteins of choice. I’ve also made this recipe with andoiulle and shrimp as well as andoiulle, shrimp, and chicken. You can do a combination of all or some and be fine, just keep the andoiulle, it adds a lot of flavor to the dish.

Budget: $1o for 6 servings, that’s $1.67 a serving. Obviously if you used shrimp, a more expensive ingredient, or more meats, the price would go up.

Recipe details after the jump.

A regular feature in which I cook cheap, gourmet dishes.


  • 1/4 of canola oil (pantry)
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers – I had green and yellow on hand ($1.50 for one pepper, about $.75 for serving)
  • 1.5 onions, chopped (pantry)
  • a few cloves of garlic, chopped (pantry)
  • 1.5 cups of long grain rice ($1.67 for 2 lbs, maybe $.25 for serving)
  • .5 lb andouille sausage, chopped ($6 for a pound, $3 for serving)
  • 1 lb of ham, chopped ($3.50)
  • 3 cups of chicken stock ($2 for 4 cups at Harris Teeter, $1.50 for serving)
  • a few scallions, chopped (about $.30)
  • 1 bay leaf (pantry)

For spice mixture:

  • 2.5 parts of paprika
  • 2 parts of salt
  • 2 parts of garlic powder
  • 1 part of onion powder
  • 1 part of cayenne pepper
  • 1 part of dried oregano
  • 1 part of dried thyme
  • 1 part of pepper
    • Note: you need about a teaspoon of this, so just put it together in a little bowl. I’d eyeball it unless you want to measure out a 1/16 of a teaspoon of something. And for all practical purposes, the cost of the spice mixture is negligible.

Total: $9.30, pretty good considering $6.50 of the cost is for meat.


  • Chop up andoiulle sausage, onions, peppers. Heat oil in large pot, add aforementioned ingredients and saute, along with spice mixture, some extra cayenne if you want more heat, and an extra pinch of salt.
  • Cook sausage and vegetables until they are well browned, about 15 minutes. Add garlic to the pot and cook for about a minute.
  • Add ham and bay leaf to the pot, let cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add rice to pot and let coat with ingredients for a few minutes.

    Rice added to the pot

    Rice added to the pot

  • Add the chicken stock to the pot to deglaze and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Turn heat to medium low, and cook over medium heat, covered for 30-35 minutes or until rice is cooked and liquid absorbed.
    • Note: Emeril says to not stir, but this can lead to burning on the bottom of the pan. You can leave it to chance, but I’d stir every 5 minutes or so just to make sure nothing’s burning.
  • Remove bay leaf, stir in chopped scallions. Check for seasoning and correct if necessary.
  • Serve with hot sauce if desired (Uncle Brutha’s of course).