Best Dish: The perfect seafood jambalaya

Kathryn Rem

Best Dish highlights the favorite recipes of home cooks.

Cook: Linda Groves, Springfield, Ill.

Age: 64

Occupation: Retired for now, but I’m returning to work in October to my previous job as a receptionist. Retirement is great but too boring for me.

Family: Husband, Gary, and two adult children, Lori Cundiff and Brad Cundiff

Favorite TV food show: “Chopped” with Ted Allen. I also like to watch Ina Garten and Paula Deen.

Name of dish: Seafood Jambalaya

History of the recipe: I got it either out of one of my Food and Wine magazines or another magazine. I have a lot of them, and cookbooks, too.

Did you tweak the recipe? Yes, the recipe said to use diced tomatoes and I use Ro-Tel instead to spice it up some. I do this on recipes most of the time. First time, I follow the instructions all the way, but after that I tweak them in some way.

I have a girlfriend who comes to lunch at our home every other Friday, and I prepared this dish for her, and she said it was wonderful with the Ro-Tel tomatoes.

I’m a vegetarian who eats seafood, so I leave out the kielbasa.

What do you like about the recipe? I love spicy food and this recipe is very easy to prepare. It’s everything all in one pot or slow cooker, good for working moms. Just add the seafood about five minutes before serving and you have dinner.

Any advice for someone who will be making the recipe? Make a ton because everyone will love it.

Describe your cooking style. Gourmet most of the time.

Other dishes you have been complimented on: Spaghetti sauce baked in the oven, chicken potpie (which my husband loves), crab-stuffed fish, shrimp Alfredo. I make my own Alfredo sauce — no buying a jar of it.

What do you like most and least about cooking? I love to cook, and I cook every night. We seldom eat out. I love to create new dishes, although my husband is not always interested in them. I usually fix two separate dishes — one for Gary and whatever I want to have myself. No problem, I don't mind doing this. I also love to entertain friends and make everyone happy.

I really don't think there is anything I don’t like about cooking. It is all good. I don’t even mind the cleanup. I love to cook with wine, and sometimes I use it in the food.


Seafood Jambalaya

1 (16-ounce) package kielbasa smoked sausage, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch-thick pieces (Hillshire Farm Polska Kielbasa preferred)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 large celery stalks, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 red or green bell pepper, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup long grain white rice, uncooked

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 (14-ounce) can chicken or vegetable broth

2 (10-ounce) cans Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles

½ pound raw shrimp

½ pound raw scallops

½ pound raw crawfish

V8 juice, tomato juice or bloody Mary mix without alcohol (optional)

Hot sauce (optional)

In deep 12-inch skillet, cook kielbasa in oil over medium-high heat 6 to 7 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. With slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl.

To drippings in skillet, add, celery, onions and bell pepper; cook, covered, 10 to 12 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook until the garlic is tender.

Stir in rice, paprika, salt and thyme. Add broth and tomatoes with their juice; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Stir kielbasa and seafood into jambalaya. (The amount of seafood can be increased or decreased, if desired.) Cook, covered, 5 minutes or until rice is tender and seafood is hot and just cooked through.

If more juice is needed, add V8, tomato juice or bloody Mary mix. Sprinkle with hot sauce if desired.

Makes 8 to 12 servings.


Be part of Best Dish

If you have a great recipe you’d like to share for Best Dish, please send it to us — along with your name, city and a daytime phone number.

You can reach us by:

E-mail at (subject line: Best Dish)

Fax at 217-788-1551

Mail at Best Dish, Food Editor, The State Journal-Register, 1 Copley Plaza, Springfield, IL 62701.