As a university student, I must say cooking can sometimes be at the back of my mind, despite the time spent scrolling through recipes I’m dying to try or drooling over posts from the chefs I follow on social media. When hunger calls, I love to cook comforting, delicious meals which you can throw together, even in a rush. It’s always great if you have leftovers or get some brownie points by offering to cook for housemates as well.
One of my go to recipes is Jambalaya, unknown to my housemates before I arrived at university, but now one of our staples. This Cajun-inspired dish is the definition of a ‘one-pot wonder’ so simple, yet so satisfying. Even when I’m home, it’s also the recipe my family are dying for and beg me to cook as soon as I arrive back.
I first stumbled across the recipe in high school cooking lessons. I admit Jambalaya wasn’t my choice initially, not being the most adventurous, but as soon as I smelt the spices and saw the vibrant colour from all the delicious vegetables, I was begging my friend to send me the recipe. For a while, I completely forgot about the dish until I decided to get some new recipes under my belt last summer. Since then, the recipe has become crumbled and torn from overuse, stained with stock and spices but always has pride of place in my recipe stash.
Here’s my version of the recipe which is tailored to my taste but feel free to swap in ingredients to satisfy you. Personally, I sometimes add bacon instead of ham or chorizo can be an alternative spicier addition. Or you can try a vegetarian version, which is one of my favourite variations, swapping out the meat for vegetarian sausages and packing in extra veg. When I need a speedy swap, I switch the brown rice for white rice which cuts the final simmering time down to 10 or 15 minutes, great for comfort food in less time!
2 tbsp olive oil
3 skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion (chopped)
200g smoked ham (or Chorizo)
2 large cloves garlic (chopped)
2 peppers (deseeded and chopped)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
250g brown rice
700 ml warm chicken or vegetable stock
3 tbsp tinned chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Prep: 10 mins Cooking time: 45 mins or less
- Put the rice in a sieve and rinse it under cold water until it runs clear, this stops everything getting too sticky.
- Heat oil in a large pan, chop the onion into small pieces. Then, cut the chicken and ham into bite-sized pieces (or chunkier pieces depending on what you prefer).
- Fry the chicken and onion for 8 mins over a medium heat until the chicken is golden, stirring frequently.
- Add the ham, garlic, red pepper and cook for 2 mins. Add the paprika, thyme, rice, stock and tomatoes. Stir and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 35 mins or until the rice is cooked and the stock absorbed.
- Throw in the peas and sweetcorn around 5 mins before serving for fresh colour or cook separately and serve on the side.
- Season, stir and enjoy!
Another example of the recipe I have found is The Foodie Physician, as seen in the above image. This version also highlights the numerous health benefits of the dish something of great importance if you follow the healthy body, healthy mind philosophy. It’ll definitely be a version I’ll be trying out in future!
Lucy Williams, Gloucester University Student.