Jambalaya is basically what happens when you have rice, creole/Cajun seasonings, onion, bell pepper, and lots of other stuff. In this particular case, I had a done a cooking demo late last week and still had plenty of thin sliced steak, hand pulled chicken shreds, ground beef, diced tomatoes, and diced green chilies in the frig. Trust me, this is a great place to start.

The chicken started out as thighs. Once they had been cooked, cooled, and hand pulled, I put the bones and skin back on to boil for about another hour for chicken stock. So this time, the jambalaya started out with 2 1/2 cups of chicken bone broth, one and 1/2 cup of rice, and a tablespoon of seasoning.

For me, the idea of jambalaya is one of the greatest gateway dishes of all time because it is so easy to add something new to your family in a dish they are already familiar with. Case in point, in this dish you may notice both shredded cabbage and diced asparagus. Picky family members can feel free to pick out anything they are uncertain about, but if you don’t warn them, they might just try it and like it.

Start out with a simple chicken jambalaya for the first round and make a point of adding or changing something every time you make it. There are really no limits to what you can with this dish. If you like game like duck, it will work. If you like seafood like shrimp or crab, they will work. If you like stretching those boundaries, wait until you make a crayfish or alligator jambalaya. You are going to love it.

For those of you wondering about the term hand pulled, it is the shredding with your fingers of a meat cooked to the point of falling off the bone. So why not dice it up? Cutting it with a knife seems to make the texture dry as the exposed meat fibers absorb the oils. If you take the time to pull the meat apart by hand, the texture stays much more moist. I know it takes longer, but I am a huge advocate for cooking in advance and this is a great way to let everyone play with their food.

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