Just in time for Mardi Gras – my Paleo Jambalaya made with cauliflower-rice is super easy to make and sure to please. Chock full of chicken, smoked andouille sausage and shrimp, you can’t go wrong with my paleo version of this New Orleans hallmark dish.
Mardi Gras Bucket List
When I was stationed at Keesler AFB in Biloxi Mississippi, oh so many years ago, I wanted to go to Mardi Gras. I mean, it was just an hour and a half drive away and I had heard so much about it. And I had planned on going. That is until the Friday Safety Briefing. Back then, we got Friday safety briefings…presumably to keep us young and impressionable airmen safe over the weekend. This particular Friday, the subject was the dangers of Mardi Gras and Mardi Gras debauchery! Now, for some, the safety briefing made you want to go even more (because doesn’t “debauchery” just sound fun?) and for others, it made you want to lock yourself in your dorm room and study.
Not going to divulge where on that spectrum I fell, but in the back of my head I could hear my Dad’s voice – all the way from California – “Girl, I bet not catch you….” So, it’s on my bucket list.
Making Paleo Jambalaya Easy
So, there are several ways to making this dish even easier. If you’re like me, I almost always prepare my Best Roasted Chicken Ever on a weekly basis, so I have chicken already cooked that I can use in this recipe. If you have a roasted chicken, just measure out about 2 -3 cups of pulled/shredded/chopped chicken meat. You can use the remaining roasted chicken in my Paleo Chicken Noodle Soup recipe!
With this recipe, I am using uncooked chicken thighs (for those who don’t have cooked chicken on hand) – however, if you are using meat from a roasted chicken, just add it into the pan at the point where I add the cooked thighs back into the pan.
I also always keep on hand a few packages of Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Riced Cauliflower. That makes life so much easier. Of course, you can easily make your own cauliflower rice by putting cauliflower florets into a food processor and pulsing a few times.
I did say I kept a few packages in the freezer…don’t judge!! LOL!
I also use pre-cooked smoked andouille sausage. Now what you find in the store may not actually say “smoked” but, by definition if you are buying cooked andouille sausage, it should have been smoked as the cooking method.
Let’s first take care of the cauliflower rice. Place one package of the frozen cauliflower rice (remember, I used Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Riced Cauliflower) into a bowl and microwave uncovered for 5 minutes. Set aside and repeat with the second package. Do not cover while cooking it. It will make it wet and soggy and not dry and fluffy. If you’re using different cauliflower rice, cook it according to its directions.
The Making of Jambalaya
In a bowl, combine the all seasonings (except the salt and pepper) with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the raw chicken and toss or stir until the chicken is coated. In a skillet over medium high heat, heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or your choice of fat…mine is bacon drippings) and brown the chicken thighs. You may have to do this in batches…don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove cooked thighs and repeat with next batch, adding more oil if necessary.
After removing the last batch of chicken, we add the Holy Trinity to the pan. Well, the culinary Holy Trinity – onions, bell pepper and celery. Also known as mirepoix. Saute the mirepoix for about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to scrape up the flavor packed browned bits left behind by the chicken!
Add in the andouille sausage and give it a stir or two. Even though the sausage is already cooked, I like browning it up a bit.
Add the cooked chicken and all the accumulated juices back into the pan along with the tomatoes and broth.
Let that cook for a few more minutes to marry the flavors together. Add in the shrimp. Stir and then cover, allowing the shrimp to cook. Depending on the size of your shrimp, your time may vary. Mine took about 6 minutes for them to lose their opaqueness. If you can, buy wild shrimp and not farmed shrimp. Why? Oh so many reasons why – here’s a Consumer’s Report detailing the differences and what to buy if you choose to buy farmed shrimp.
Once the shrimp is cooked, your dish should look something like this:
Now, this is where you’ve got a decision to make. Traditional Jambalaya has the rice mixed into the dish, so at this point, if you choose, you would add in your cauliflower rice and stir it all up together and serve it like so:
Or…you can be a little fancy schmancy and serve it up as I do (because I luv luv luv fancy schmancy presentation). To get this presentation take your cooked cauliflower rice and press it into a small bowl (really smoosh it in there so that it will hold its shape) and invert that small bowl into your serving bowl. Spoon the Paleo Jambalaya around the mound of cauliflower rice and viola! You get something like this:
Be sure to garnish with fresh chopped parsley and…if you like, you can serve it with lemon or lime wedges to brighten the flavors a bit.
Back to the bucket list thing and because “debauchery” still sounds fun to me (as long as I’m in bed by 9pm), I say Mardi Gras 2019 – Laissez le bon temps rouler!! Who’s with me???
In case you want to Pin and save it for later (and pinning is greatly appreciated!):
Paleo Jambalaya with Cauliflower Rice
- 2 12oz packages Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower or 1 1/2 cups of other cauliflower rice
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 6 chicken thighs cut into 1" pieces
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 large bell pepper diced
- 4 precooked smoked andouille sausages sliced into 1/4" diagonals
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup bone broth
- 1 lb wild shrimp peeled, deveined, tails removed
- fine sea salt to taste
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- parsley, lemon or lime wedges optional for garnish
- Empty one package of Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower into a bowl and microwave UNCOVERED on high for 5 minutes. Remove and repeat with the 2nd package and set aside.
- Into a medium sized bowl, place 2 Tbsp of oil, oregano, smoked paprika, thyme, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder and chicken. Toss or stir to coat the chicken. Set aside.
- Place remaining 2 Tbsp oil In a large skillet over medium high heat and brown the chicken thighs for 3 minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown another 2 - 3 minutes or until cooked through . You may have to do this in more than 1 batch - do not overcrowd the pan. Remove cooked chicken to a plate and repeat until all chicken is cooked. Set aside.
- To the skillet, add more oil if necessary. Then add in the onions, celery and bell pepper and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Be sure to scrape up the delicious flavor packed browned bits left behind from the chicken.
- Add in the andouille sausage and cook another 2 minutes...I like to brown the sausage a bit, even though it's already precooked.
- Return the chicken and it's accumulated juices back into the skillet and add in the diced tomatoes and bone broth. Cook for about 3 minutes to let the flavors marry, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the shrimp, give it a quick stir and then cover the skillet. Cook until the shrimp is no longer opaque, about 5-8 minutes depending on the size of your shrimp. Adjust seasoning to your liking with fine sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- For a more traditional Jambalaya, stir in the cauliflower rice and cook for another minute. Or...if you prefer, you can place the cauliflower rice into a mound in the center of your serving bowl and spoon the Paleo Jambalaya around the mound of cauliflower rice.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon or lime wedges. Serve immediately.