Food and I have a complicated relationship, particularly when it comes to ingredients. No, I’m not lactose intolerant or have issues with gluten — that would be somewhat easy to overcome these days. Relatively.
My mortal enemy, instead, swoops in on bat wings from a fragrant corner of the fifth circle of Hades, and like a twisted, pasty, rotund Pokémon, it whoops as a battle cry its sinister scientific genus “Allium.“
More specifically, I refer to…
Onions. Leeks. Shallots. Garlic, sometimes, if there’s too much.
While not the type of aversion that requires an Epi-Pen (thank the flying spaghetti monster for small favors), I can and do become really ill if more than a super tiny amount of most types of Allium are ingested. Therefore, I have to try really really hard to not put them anywhere near my face.
Let that sink in, while considering just how many pre-prepared foods, cultural dishes, and recipes ultimately rely on the humble onion and its relatives for such things as flavor, texture, and filler. Check out an ingredients label when at the store once in a while to see how just deep my disappointment goes when I find a potential new meal or snack.
My face could set records for going from 0-60 on the “happiness -> frustration” scale in 0.68 seconds.
To quote a great many people who try to show their sympathy: “Wow, must be tough to go out to eat.”
You truly have no idea.
However, I was not raised to just give up or shut down when obstacles arise. Recipes had to be modified. Flavors shifted or were preserved with the addition of new ingredients or merely modifying the amounts of existing ones.
It may sound technical, but in all honesty, it came about through sheer desperation to vary my diet more than anything else. With my refusal to live in fear of the vegetable that brings many of us to actual tears, recipes have been tried and adapted so that I could continue to explore the world of cuisine as much as possible without worries of getting sick.
All this, in combination with the fact that I simply enjoy playing with flavors. Herbs and spices fascinate me, and discovering entirely new ingredients make my hands itch to try something new with them.
Each new dish, thus, becomes a creativity challenge.
This Southwest-Style Jambalaya recipe was inspired by one posted by Toni Dash of Boulder Locavore. You can find the original here if you like, and by all means, try that one as well!
My version doesn’t follow Louisiana tradition by any means, instead opting to include a different style of zing and flavor to make up for the lack of onions. You can add cooked shrimp if you wish with the sausage at the end, and when I do I normally opt to defrost the frozen kind because it’s quicker. However, I feel that the dish stands out well on its own when using spicy ground sausage and the addition of enchilada sauce.
Do keep in mind a most necessary equipment for this recipe: an Instant Pot.
An incredible kitchen invention that has saved my bacon (in both the figurative and literal sense) on many occasions, if you don’t already have one of these, at least borrow one from a friend for a week.
That is, if you can manage to pry it away from them for that long. No one I know, myself included, would likely be willing to part with theirs for even a day.
A final note before the recipe itself: I haven’t quite figured out all of the fancy widgets that food blogs use quite yet, so do forgive the low-tech nature of this post.
Southwest-Style Jambalaya Recipe
Inspired by Toni Dash’s Instant Pot Jambalaya Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 14-16 oz spicy ground sausage
- 1 medium Anaheim or Poblano pepper, seeded and julienned
- 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 10 oz can of red enchilada sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Hot sauce, if desired
- After pouring the olive oil into the Instant Pot, set to “sauté” function and allow to heat. Add the sausage, chopping into smaller pieces with your spatula as it cooks. Heavy metal is a great musical choice for this step. Don’t ask me why. It just works.
- Once fully browned, transfer the meat to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside. Have a taste. Yum. Okay, maybe one more bite…
- Use the remaining oil in Instant Pot to sauté the strips of pepper until soft, about 2 minutes.
- Add the rice (uncooked) and garlic powder to the peppers. Stir, allowing the oil to completely coat the rice before canceling the “sauté” function. If you notice any clumps of garlic or tiny bits of sausage along the bottom of the pot, scrape them away with the spatula. This will prevent annoying issues later in the process (see Notes).
- Open the can of enchilada sauce and pour over the rice mixture.
- Add tomatoes (with juices), paprika, oregano, black pepper, thyme, and salt. Mix well with your spatula (see Notes).
- Close and lock the Instant Pot lid, ensuring that the vent is set to “sealing.” Cook on Manual High Pressure for 8 minutes. When the timer goes off, let it sit and allow the contents to naturally release the pressure for five minutes before performing a manual release. Personal tip: I put a folded kitchen towel over the vent before I shift the valve to “venting” and step back. It’s just a nice way to protect skin, hands and eyes from the steam.
- Once all pressure is released, unlock/remove the lid. Add the sausage, stir contents of the pot, and replace the lid for 5-10 minutes. This will warm the meat and allow for continued absorption of flavors. Avoid standing and staring longingly at your Instant Pot during this step. The jambalaya won’t get done any faster that way, I promise.
- Serve jambalaya in bowls or, if feeling fancy, coffee mugs with sarcastic quotations on them. Spoons recommended, chopsticks optional. If an extra kick of heat is desired, add a splash of smooth hot sauce (such as Cholula or Louisiana Hot Sauce) when serving.
- When I first tried to follow the original recipe, minus the onions, four times out of five I still had clumps of spices sticking to the bottom of the Instant Pot and causing issues, even after scrubbing well with a spatula as directed. Once I tried first adding liquid followed by the spices, I never again had that problem, and the flavors remained vibrant.
- If you’re not a huge fan of spicy heat, use ground breakfast sausage instead of a hot Italian style. You can also substitute the red enchilada sauce for a green one, which is typically much milder. Chopping the pepper into smaller pieces can also help diffuse the spice in this dish.
- If your rice turns out not quite al dente, consider adding an extra 1/2 cup of water with the enchilada sauce. You could also add a minute to the cook time.
- Most recently, I have tried adding some microgreens from my Hamama experiments to great effect! For more peppery flavor, use the daikon radish, but for more zip, add wasabi mustard greens. Just sprinkle some greens on top of a serving of this jambalaya and you’re good to go!
- Batches of this dish can be frozen for later use; simply reheat for a longer period at about half power in the microwave so the meat doesn’t get rubbery.
Recipe inspired by ‘Instant Pot Jambalaya Recipe‘ Copyright © 2018 by Toni Dash.