EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lifestyle

March 12, 2014

Variations on a theme

The sad fact of the matter is, most of us didn’t make it to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras. But that’s no reason to forsake some of the city’s classic cuisine.

Jambalaya is the perfect dish for out-of-towners; it’s easy, it’s weeknight and kid-friendly, and it’s extremely versatile. Because while there are several basic approaches to jambalaya — Creole and Cajun among them — there really are endless variations on this dish of rice, meat and seafood.

So we decided to put a local spin on jambalaya, with variations playing up ingredients drawn from New England, the Southwest and the West Coast. Just follow the base recipe, adding in the local ingredients of your choice (see the variations below the recipe). And don’t hesitate to mix and match. The beauty of a dish like this is that it will be delicious pretty much whichever direction you head.

JAMBALAYA ACROSS THE COUNTRY

This is a have-it-your-way approach to jambalaya. Follow the base recipe below, adding the local variations where indicated. Our suggestions for those variations are listed below the base recipe, but feel free to substitute the ingredients of your choice.

Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 12

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large yellow onions, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound sausage (see below)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 cups crushed fire-roasted tomatoes

Regional variation of vegetable and seasonings (see below)

2 cups long-grain white rice, such as basmati

2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth

3 bay leaves

1 pound seafood (see below)

Salt and ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions, green pepper, celery, red pepper flakes and sausage (see below). Cook, stirring, until browned, about 10 minutes.

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