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Making Mardi Gras taste a little more like home

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Making Mardi Gras taste a little more like home

By ALISON LADMAN, Associated Press | February 19, 2014 | Updated: February 19, 2014 7:39am

The sad fact of the matter is, most of us won't make it to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras. But that's no reason to forsake some of the city's classic cuisine.

This year, honor Mardi Gras by making jambalaya at home. It's the perfect dish for out-of-towners; it's easy, it's weeknight- and kid-friendly, and it's extremely versatile. Because while there are several basic approaches to jambalaya — Creole and Cajun among them — there really are endless variations on this dish of rice, meat and seafood.

So we decided to put a local spin on jambalaya, with variations playing up ingredients drawn from New England, the Southwest and the West Coast. Just follow the base recipe, adding in the local ingredients of your choice (see the variations below the recipe). And don't hesitate to mix and match. The beauty of a dish like this is that it will be delicious pretty much whichever direction you head.

JAMBALAYA ACROSS THE COUNTRY

This is a have-it-your-way approach to jambalaya. Follow the base recipe below, adding the local variations where indicated. Our suggestions for those variations are listed below the base recipe, but feel free to substitute the ingredients of your choice.   :snip: 

http://www.chron.com/living/article/Making-Mardi-Gras-taste-a-little-more-like-home-5247578.php

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JAMBALAYA

2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

4-ounce link uncooked andouille sausage or other spicy sausage, sliced thin

2 cups chopped onion

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1 fresh jalapeño, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup long grain rice, such as Texmati

2 tsp dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1/4 tsp ground cayenne, or more to taste

6 oz smoky ham, diced

1 tsp Kosher salt or coarse sea salt, or more to taste

2 cups low-sodium seafood broth or chicken broth

18 medium shrimp, peeled, or 3/4 lb crawfish

DIRECTIONS

Grease the inside of the slow cooker with about 1 tsp of the oil.

Warm the rest of the oil and the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add andouille and cook for about 2 minutes, just long enough for it to begin to color. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, celery, jalapeño, and garlic, and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the rice, thyme, bay leaves and cayenne, stir and cook for another minute. Spoon the mixture into the slow cooker.

Add the ham, salt, and broth to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on the high heat setting for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, until rice is tender. Scatter the shrimp over the mixture, cover again and cook until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 30 more minutes. Add more salt, if needed. Remove the bay leaves. Spoon onto plates and serve. Serves 6

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