Cooking Column: Slow cooker jambalaya

Cooking Column: Slow cooker jambalaya

I was cold this week. I was cold, and in need of some comfort food. Weeks like this, I always think back to my mom’s go-to comfort dish for cold nights - her jambalaya. Now, fair warning, this is not New Orleans jambalaya. My mother is from New York, so it’s a pretty basic version. 

When I asked my mom for her recipe, she pulled out a cookbook and I was kind of disappointed. Then I read the recipe and realized my mom was a liar – her recipe is almost like what the cookbook said. My mom, against any food that’s green, has never included celery or peppers in her jambalaya in my life. 

By the time I got through talking with her about all her changes, I realized the only thing she’d kept from the recipe was the ham, the shrimp, the rice and the cook time. Everything else had some sort of modification to it, if it was even left in. 

I loved eating this recipe when I was younger, but I’m not going to lie, I dreaded the days mom said she was making it, because it meant when I got home from school, I would have to peel and take the tails off an entire pound of cold shrimp to add to the slow cooker. It was arguably one of the least favorite tasks of my teenage years. 

My mom always bought the shrimp from the seafood counter at Publix, but never bought the kind that was already peeled because it cost more money, but she never bought raw frozen shrimp that was already prepared either.

I’m not my mother though, and while there wasn’t enough fresh already-peeled shrimp at Target, I bought the raw frozen kind that was peeled, deveined and had the tails removed. 

This recipe is so easy to prep too – you just dump everything in the slow cooker, give it a good couple stirs, let it run while you’re at work or class and then throw the shrimp in during the last hour. About 30 minutes before everything in the slow cooker is done, you need to prepare two cups of instant rice on the stove. Then when all your food is done, just mix it together and enjoy some very warm comfort food. 

It also tastes really good with a little cornbread on the side. 

What you’ll need:

2 cups of diced ham 

2 tablespoons of minced onion or 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped 

2 16 ounce cans of tomato sauce 

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon parsley flakes 

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 1/2 teaspoon cloves 

1 pound of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (and thawed if using frozen)

2 cups of instant rice

How to make it:

Combine everything but the shrimp and rice in a slow cooker. 

Cook on low for 7 hours.

Add shrimp and cook on high for one more hour.

Prepare instant rice to package directions. 

Mix in with other ingredients after the hour is up. 


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