Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Jambalaya vs Paella #FoodnFlix #KitchenMatrixCookingProject

Did you ever stop to think about what the difference is between Paella and Jambalaya?  As close as I can determine, it is the seasoning and perhaps the pan in which it is made.

Regardless of what seasonings you use, what type of sausage or smoked meat you use, what cooking vessel you use the results are very similar.  A savory one pot meal of rice, vegetables and meat that is sure to please everyone at the table.

This week Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla invited Karen, of Karen's Kitchen Stories, and I to join her in making a Paella inspired by Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix Cookbook.

In the cookbook, Bittman gives you a recipe generator in the form of a matrix for making Paella.  Bittman writes that only a few things are mandatory when making Paella.  You need rice, olive oil and vegetables.  And a few things are optional, like sausage, lobster, shellfish and chicken.

Then there is a matrix showing the different kinds of meats, shellfish and vegetables that he suggests you mix and match to suit your needs.  In Bittman's mind the difference between Paella and other rice dishes is that it doesn't get stirred so that it has a crisp bottom layer.  

Let's see Cam and Karen's Paella creations.........

Let's discuss, now, how I came to question the difference between Paella and Jambalaya.  You will find the answer in this month's Food n Flix challenge.

Food 'n Flix

Food n Flix is a fun group that gets together each month to watch a movie chosen by one of the members and then create and share a recipe inspired by that film.  I get to host next month and have chosen the movie "A Man Called Ove".  

This month's movie, The Princess and the Frog, was chosen by Heather who began this wonderful monthly group over 8 years ago!!  It has grown considerably since she first started and she chose to take this past summer off.  I really missed it so I was thrilled to read her announcement post for this month.  Anyone is welcome to join in the fun.  You can learn how on this page. 

The Princess and the Frog was released by Disney in 2009.  I had never seen this movie, not having any children in the house during that time period.  I had never even heard of the movie before this invitation.  It is a take on the Grimm Classic "The Frog King".  Yeah, I had never heard of that either.

It is the classic tale of a prince turned into a frog by an evil spell.  The spell can be broken by being kissed by a princess.  The only thing is there is no Princess in this movie.  There is a beautiful young lady, Tiana, who dreams of opening a restaurant in her home town of New Orleans.  It is quite the twist to the tale when she ends up kissing the frog and "poof" becomes a frog herself.  It is a fun movie that had me laughing out loud several times. 

Of course, the food inspiration in this movie was huge having taken place in one of the food capitals of our country.  The possibilities were endless and now you know how I came to be seeking out the difference between Paella and Jambalaya.

Which led me to believe that it is all in the seasonings.  Of course, the only seasoning Bittman's recipe required was salt and pepper. The saffron, that we associate with Paella, was optional.  I went with traditional Bayou seasonings for my Jambalaya, garlic powder, bay leaf, cayenne and thyme.

Both dishes start with onion and peppers sauteed in oil.  I don't have a Paella pan so I just used my wok.

Then it is just layer upon layer of flavor.  Start with whatever meat you are using that needs to be browned or cooked.  I was using smoked sausage so I added that to the pan to brown.  I had leftover chicken but if you are using raw chicken now is the time to add it in, otherwise wait until it is time to add the shrimp.

Once the meat is browned, add the rice.  Cook and stir until shiny and translucent.  I used canned tomatoes so added them at this point.  I also added some tomato sauce, which would not necessarily be used in Paella but is perfect for Jambalaya.  Add some broth or water.  I used vegetable broth, and cook until the rice is tender.  I stirred my mixture occasionally and added more liquid as needed.  I always stir my Paella too.  I had never heard about the crispy bottom until I read it in Bittman's cookbook.

When the rice is al dente, stir in the chicken (if using leftovers) and shrimp, cover and let cook for about another 10 minutes until the shrimp is pink and the chicken is warmed through.

Paella is a Spanish Dish.  Jambalaya is a Cajun dish inspired by the French.  So I served it up with an Italian wine LOL....what the heck.  I had received some lovely bottles of Ciro wine to sample for our upcoming #ItalianFWT post in November.  

I knew this Rosato wine would lend itself perfectly to the light spiciness of this dish and I was very happy with the pairing.  

The Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project is nearly over but Cam has invited us on another Culinary Adventure called "Pretty Simple Cooking" you can learn more about that in this post.

You still have time to join in this months Food n Flix.  It is a fun movie and the recipe possibilities are endless.

I will be discussing this and other pairings of Ciro wines on 11/3 at 11 am ET with the group on Twitter chat following #ItalianFWT.  Please plan on joining us.

#rice, #sausage, #chicken, #shrimp, #onepotmeals
Entrees, One Pot Meals
Yield: 4-6 servingsPin it


A savory one pot meal of rice, vegetables and meat that is sure to please everyone at the table.
prep time: 15 minscook time: 30 minstotal time: 45 mins


1 small onion, diced
1 small sweet orange bell pepper, diced
1 T. olive oil
1 c. rice
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 link smoked sausage. slice into rounds
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with juices
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
2-2 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 c. diced cooked chicken
1 lb. raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined


Heat the olive oil in a wok or large skillet over med high heat.  Add the onion and bell pepper.  Cook and stir for a few minutes until slightly softened.  Add the sausage and cook until lightly browned.  Add the rice, cooking and stirring until shiny and translucent.  Stir in the thyme, garlic powder, bay leaf and cayenne.  Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in 2 cups of the broth and cook, stirring occasionally until nearly absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.  Add the remaining 1/2 c. of broth, if needed, and stir in the chicken and shrimp. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes, until shrimp is pink, chicken is warmed through and rice is tender.


Greatly adapted from a recipe found at Food Network by Paula Deen.
Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. LOVE your Jambalaya. Thanks for sharing. And what a great wine pairing! Cheers.

  2. No matter what you call it, it's still "rice with things" right? Sounds delicious.

  3. Both dishes are pure comfort food in my book (what I wouldn't give for a steaming dish of either to warm me up right now)!

  4. Thanks for the primer. Cajun, Spanish, Italian....it's all good!


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