Dutch ovens can be used to bake, boil, fry, sear, simmer, and roast nearly anything you want to cook – and it cleans up with just plain hot water. If you can handle the added weight in your gear, it is a must-have for cooking at basecamp too. This piece of equipment masters everything from rye bread to peppercorn venison, scrambled eggs to apple pie and biscuits to Jambalaya––you can do it all in a Dutch oven.

What is Jambalaya?

Jambalaya is what happened to Spanish Paella after emigrating to North America. Saffron, the major flavour enhancer of paella, was nearly impossible to get in those early days. Undeterred, the folks on the new ground used tomatoes as a substitute. Other local ingredients found their way into the pot too. The main ingredients—chicken, sausage, and seafood—remain constant as does onions, celery and green pepper.

How do I make Jambalaya on the fire?

This is a simple one-pot over-the-fire Jambalaya recipe. Go ahead, light it up. Feel free to shake it up a bit. Changing out the chicken for rabbit or using a different sausage (chorizo comes to mind) would be fine. I added carrots and my own pepper spice blend.

Equipment

  • 12” Dutch oven
  • Dutch oven lid lifter
  • Dutch oven lid stand
  • Cutting board
  • French knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 4 ounces (120 grams) of pancetta or bacon cubed
  • 1/2 a bone-in chicken, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes (if you want a boneless dish go ahead and substitute boneless breasts or thighs)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) of fresh carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large yellow onion peeled and diced
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Asian celery leaves chopped coarsely (or use the green leaves of regular celery)
  • 2 green peppers seeded, diced
  • About a pound (500 grams) Andouille sausage grilled, cooled and sliced diagonally (Chorizo is a good substitute if you can’t find spicy marjoram-flavoured Andouille)
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 ml) canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 ml) of medium grain rice
  • 3 cups (750 ml) of hot chicken stock or 2 tsp (10 ml) powdered chicken stock in three cups (750 ml) of hot water
  • About a pound (500 grams) of cooked shrimp
  • Powdered pepper blend or commercial Cajun spice (I make my own with equal parts black peppercorns, white peppercorns, green peppercorns, Ancho chilies, Guajillo chilies, and for some real kick add a few Tien Tsin Peppers or Red Thai Chilies—crush the chilies by hand and pulverize the works in the coffee grinder)
  • Salt (to taste)

Method

  1. Collect and prepare all of the ingredients
  2. Build a fire to grill the sausage and cook the Jambalaya over (or you can use your camp stove)
  3. Grill the Andouille sausage, chill and slice diagonally
  4. Brown pancetta or bacon
  5. Add chicken pieces, season with pepper blend, brown one side, turn, brown the other
  6. Season with pepper blend
  7. Add onions and carrots.
  8. Cover, stirring every three minutes or so, cook until onions turn translucent and start to brown
  9. Add rice and sauté for four minutes
  10. Add tomato and chicken stock, stir well
  11. Cover and simmer, stir every five minutes or so
  12. At 20 minutes check the consistency of the pot; add another cup of water if required
  13. Correct seasoning with salt
  14. Add cooked sausage, celery, peppers and shrimp, bring back to a simmer for 20 minutes, stir once at 10 minutes

Jambalaya, paella and gumbo are all related one-pot dishes from a peasant past. These are all made with regionally available and inexpensive ingredients, like so much of our historical foods. And they work great for the campfire cook with a crowd to please and feed.

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