Jambalaya is a Louisiana creole dish with both Spanish and French influences. It consists of meat, vegetables, and rice—forming a complete, filling one-pot meal. Some say the Atakapa Tribe had a phrase: "Sham, pal ha! Ya!" which means "Be full, not skinny! Eat Up!" Supposedly, the Spanish carried a tweaked version of this phrase into Louisiana and voila! Jambalaya was named! Of course, there are as many legends about the etymology as there are recipes for the dish, but all you really need to know is “Be full, not skinny. Eat up!” (And yes, that is now my personal mantra. Can I get an Amen?)

In our family, we kind of ‘wing it’ when it comes to making Jambalaya and Gumbo. But, it all begins with Emeril Lagasse’s foundational recipe. Emeril is known world-wide for his culinary talents, and for his famous “Bam!” when he adds a dash of spice to the pot. You can find incredible recipes on his website and you can dine at one of many his restaurants, but you may want to start by reserving a seat at the legendary New Orleans restaurant, Commander’s Palace, where he was executive chef for more than seven years.



·         ½ cup canola or vegetable oil

·         2 small yellow onions, diced

·         1 large bell pepper, chopped

·         4 stalks celery, chopped

·         6 or more cloves garlic, chopped

·         1 teaspoon salt

·         1 pound andouille sausage, browned and sliced

·         A whole chicken, cooked, skinned, and deboned (Tip: Short on time? Grab a rotisserie chicken from your local grocer)

·         1 ½ pounds gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined

·         2-3 Tablespoons Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole seasoning (or see his recipe below to make your own)

·         3 bay leaves

·         3 cups long-grain white rice

·         1 small can diced organic tomatoes

·         6 cups stock

·         ½ cup chopped tomatoes

·         1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

·         1 teaspoon hot sauce (Tabasco)

·         1 cup chopped green onions




1.      In a bowl, combine shrimp, chicken, and Creole seasoning and work in seasoning well.

2.      Sauté sliced sausage in a large cast-iron Dutch oven over medium heat until brown on all sides.

3.      Remove sausage. Add oil if needed. Heat the oil in the same large cast-iron Dutch oven over medium heat.

4.      Add the peppers, celery, and garlic, stirring often for about 20 minutes until they are caramelized and dark brown in color.

5.      Scrape the bottom of the pot as you cook, to loosen any browned particles (the good stuff).

6.      Add cooked sausage and bay leaves, stir.

7.      Add rice, and stir for 2-3 minutes to coat evenly.

8.      Add tomatoes and stir.

9.      Add stock, raw shrimp, cooked chicken, and browned sausage. (Use the stock you have from boiling your chicken or use prepackaged chicken/veggie/shrimp stock on hand. We like to combine a chicken and veggie stock to give it a little more depth. In Louisiana you can find seafood stock, but it's harder to find in Oxford, Mississippi where I now live. Of course, you can also make your own stock. I'm not that patient.)

10.  Add Worchestershire and stir. Cover.

11.  Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. (apx. 20-30 mins)

12.  Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for apx. 10 mins.

13.  Remove bay leaves. Stir in green onions. Serve!


TIP: If you can’t find Emeril’s Essence Creole seasoning, here’s a basic recipe courtesy of Emeril. Find more of his recipes by visiting

Emeril’s Essence Creole Seasoning Mix:

·         2 ½ Tablespoons paprika

·         2 Tablespoons salt

·         2 Tablespoons garlic powder

·         1 Tablespoon black pepper

·         1 Tablespoon onion powder

·         1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper

·         1 Tablespoon dried oregano

·         1 Tablespoon dried thyme