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Jambalaya with Sausage, Bacon and Kale

Modern Mardi Gras recipes: Updated jambalaya and babka king cake
Modern Mardi Gras recipes: Updated jambalaya and babka king cakeNathan Congleton / TODAY


  • 2/3 cup schmaltz (chicken fat) or extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
  • 2 pounds smoked andouille sausage, sliced
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bunches curly kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups brown rice
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Chef notes

You don't usually find kale and brown rice in jambalaya, but they help lighten up this this rich stew while adding flavor and texture.



Combine 1/3 cup schmaltz (or olive oil) and bacon in a Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot over medium heat. Once the bacon's fat has rendered, after 10 minutes or so, add the sausage and cook until the edges start to brown. Leaving the fat in the pot, remove the meat and reserve.


Add the onions, garlic, salt and bay leaf to the pot. Cook until the onions are translucent, soft and fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in all the spices and let them toast for a couple of minutes.


Fold in the kale. It may look like a lot, so do this in batches if you need to, but it will really cook down. Give it a good stir to coat it with the fat and seasoning, and once it's all started to soften, add the stock, rice and reserved sausage and bacon.


Bring everything up to a simmer, then stir in the butter and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and let the rice cook until it's tender and has absorbed all the stock, 35–­­45 minutes. If there's still a lot of liquid by the time the rice has cooked, bump the heat up to medium and cook for a few more minutes without the lid. Cover the pot once again and set it aside to rest off the heat while you make the topping.


Heat the oven to 500° F and set a rack towards the top, as close as you can get the pot to the heating element. Melt the remaining 1/3 cup schmaltz (or olive oil) in a small pan and stir in the panko. Sprinkle the panko mixture in a thin, even layer over the top of the jambalaya and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden.