One pot cooking is something that makes me immensely happy. A tasty, low-effort dinner with only one pan to wash up (along with cutlery and crockery of course) is the dream during the week. I love to cook, but I also love to put my pyjamas on and throw myself onto the sofa when I get in from work most weeknights. And let’s be honest, we all want fresh, healthy weekday meals, but nobody wants to be slaving for hours in the kitchen when they get in at 7pm after a long day.
So, I wanted to share some of my favourite lazy weekday meals in this series, Weekday Meals for Lazy Cooks, starting with Jambalaya.
Jambalaya is a bit like paella I suppose, but with cajun flavourings that pack a real punch with very little effort. All you need are some storecupboard supplies, fresh meat and veg and a large, heavy bottomed pan.
I tend to make my Jambalaya in a paella pan, because you want a wide, shallow pan for this, but if you don’t have a paella, a frying pan works just as well.
Rice (paella rice works well, as does regular long grain rice, just avoid basmati or sushi rice)
2 – 3 garlic cloves
1 red or green pepper
1 Scotch bonnet (if you like it hot)
1/2 loop chorizo (the thick sausage for cooking, not the thin, sliced variety for snacking)
4 chicken thighs or 2 breasts (you can replace chicken with prawns if you’re pescetarian)
Cajun seasoning (recipe below)
1 jar tomato passata or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Water from a freshly boiled kettle
Splash hot pepper sauce
First up, dice your onion and pepper. You can leave them chunky or chop finely, whichever you prefer. I like mine chunky.
Mince the garlic in either a garlic press or grater, or just chop as finely as you can (you don’t want big chunks of garlic in your jambalaya!)
Chop the chorizo into thick rounds and dice the chicken. If you want to add extra veggies, courgettes go really well in this dish.
Now your prep is done, heat some oil in your pan over a medium heat. Once it’s up to temperature, sweat the onion and garlic until smelling good.
Then add the peppers and cook for another few minutes until they start to soften. Next add in the chorizo and cook until it has rendered some of its fat, then finally add the chicken and cook until opaque on all sides.
Now it’s time for the spices. For cajun seasoning, I use a combination of thyme, smoked paprika, black pepper, salt, oregano, cayenne pepper and chilli powder. Some recipes also call for onion and garlic powder, but I prefer to use fresh. I don’t measure my spices, I usually just eyeball it, but if you do want to measure I’d suggest 2 teaspoons of everything except black pepper, cayenne and chili flakes, I’d say 1 teaspoon of these, maybe 1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes if you’re using a scotch bonnet. I also like to add a knifepoint of cinnamon to my jambalaya to give it a bit of jerk flavour.
Stir the spices into the pan, then add in the rice. Again, I don’t measure the rice, I just pour in enough to cover the bottom of the pan, leaving room for the liquid.
Stir the rice until it is coated in the oil and spices, then pour in the tomatoes and top up with freshly boiled water from the kettle, until the rice is completely covered with liquid. Stir again to combine the water and tomatoes.
Finally, if you’re using a scotch bonnet, drop it in whole and leave it to infuse as the rice cooks. If you’re using prawns instead of chicken, add them now so you don’t overcook them.
Turn the heat right down and allow the rice to cook. For me, this usually takes 15 -20 mins but it will depend on the size of your pan, so give it a check after 15 minutes. When it’s ready, the liquid will have been absorbed and the rice will be cooked. It should look something like this:
Once the rice is cooked, fish out the scotch bonnet and discard, give everything a stir and serve! I can get 4 – 5 good portions from my pan, so you should have plenty leftover. Jambalaya reheats well too so the leftovers make great lunches the next day.
That’s it! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. If you give it a try, let me know how you get on, I’d love to see your pictures!