We got the base for this recipe from our favorite cookbook, "Cast-Iron Cooking" by A.D. Livingston (The Lyons Press, 1991).
Every recipe in this book that I've tried has been a winner. This jambalaya takes quite a bit of time, but it's a guaranteed crowd pleaser. The recipe below contains a few updates of my own, and it can be tweaked to suit your own needs.
It's best to get all the prep work done before firing up the stove and it's best to make this at home, the night before the game. Fortunately, this jambalaya is one of those dishes that can be reheated in your skillet or Dutch oven again and again, and gets better every time.
It's best made the day before the game (and tastes better when reheated). However, a well-organized chef can do the entire dish on game day. Serves 6 to 8.
For the spice mixture:
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon thyme (indispensable to this dish)
1 teaspoon rough ground pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon paprika
Combine all spices and set aside. I tend to have a heavy hand with the spices and especially like a little extra thyme in this dish.
For the jambalaya:
4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 green or red pepper, diced
2-3 jalapenos, finely chopped (optional)
2 carrots, sliced (optional)
8 slices of good, smoky bacon
½ pound bulk sausage, crumbled
1 pound smoke-cured hams, cut into chunks (we prefer to make my own ham, as store-bought hams aren't very smoky)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken, cut into chunks
1 cup long-grain rice, uncooked (good old Uncle Ben's works fine)
1 14.5-ounce can of tomatoes
1 cup of hot chicken broth (when making double batches, I sometimes add an equal amount of a good, well-hopped beer)
1 pound of shrimp, shells removed
8 ounces fresh whole mushrooms (Do not slice! Whole mushrooms may look too big, but they will shrink dramatically, and fill with flavor)
Tabasco sauce or Louisiana hot sauce
Chop the celery, onion, pepper and jalapenos and set aside. Chop carrots and set aside separately. Fry the bacon (and sausage if being used) in large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. Remove meat with slotted spoon, set aside, chop or crumble. Brown ham and chicken in bacon fat, then set aside with bacon and sausage.
Add the rice to the bacon drippings, and cook on low heat until it starts to brown (you may find at this point that the bacon fat has begun to dry up. If it does, add a little vegetable oil or more bacon fat if you have it). Add mushroom, celery, onion, pepper and jalapenos to the skillet. Sauté on low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
Add canned tomatoes, along with their juice, to the skillet with hot chicken broth. Dump all cooked meat back in the mixture, along with shrimp, carrots, mushrooms and spice mixture. Mix well.
Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat, simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add more broth or beer if needed. Add Worcestershire and Tabasco to taste. Serve with cornbread or as a great side dish to deep-fried turkey.