New Orleans has got to be one of my all time favorite cities to visit. It’s up there with San Fransisco and New York. Very touristy of me to pick those three, but I can’t help it. It’s funny because I was born and raised in a touristy city myself and yet, I take it for granted. I drive down Hollywood all the time and I see all of the people there taking photos and I think to myself, “Why would anyone want to visit this place?” I wonder if that’s how locals in places like NY, SF and NOLA feel as well. New Orleans is such a beautiful place to explore, though. It’s filled with friendly people and there are so many things to see. It can be overwhelming at first, but once you get used to all of the people (mainly in the French Quarter) it becomes a completely different experience. I’ve had the opportunity to go a few times now, and I’m so thankful for it. It’s been an equal amount of work and play and the best part of it all is that I get to catch up and work with my friend and fellow cat Joy. I was so sad when she moved, but it’s given me the chance to visit a city I probably never would’ve before.
The city will always have this spooky feeling, for me. And it’s not only because of the ghost tours going on throughout the French Quarter. That’s only part of it. I think it has to do with the fact that the city itself is just so old and full of history. It probably doesn’t help that Joy told me a ghost story the second I saw her on my first visit. Aside from the ghosts and voodoo though, it’s an incredible city with amazing food. The food is really what sets it apart. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but it never felt right or complete to me, until now. I think I just needed the perfect recipe to go along with it.
Julian has tagged along with me on a couple of visits now. We celebrated his recent birthday in New Orleans and let’s just say birthdays and New Orleans are the perfect match. We basically ate and drank our way through the city, much like we always do everywhere we go. We did all of the touristy things like eat beignets at Cafe Du Monde and drank all of the Bloody Marys for breakfast (through brunch). Yet some of our favorite things weren’t all that grand. Like walking in the rain from one part of the city to the other. Or drinking a few Breakfast Margaritas at an out-of-the-way joint.
I think it’s important to go out and explore a city you’ve never been to before and visit places that are off the beaten path. You don’t know what you might find, plus it’s always great to ask the locals where they go because those places are always 1 million times better than where everyone else goes. You don’t even have to spend money on travel. Go out and explore your own city. Make an effort to try restaurants you’ve never tried or drive down to a nearby city you’ve never visited. Do some research online and go out on an adventure. Put yourself in a tourist’s shoes and see your city as if it’s the first time you’re experiencing it. I guarantee you’ll have a lot of fun and might even discover a few things.
What are some of your favorite cities to visit? I want to know! Leave a comment down below with your favorite city with the best restaurant, dish or drink you’ve ever had while visiting. I’d love to read all about it. Or just tell me about a local spot you always go to where you live. I’m always looking for great suggestions! Julian and I are obsessed with a sushi place in Los Angeles that we go to every Thursday. Is it a problem if everyone in the restaurant remembers you and knows exactly what you’ll order? I think it’s kind of cool to have a place like that. If you’re ever in Los Angeles I can give you the longest list of things to do and things to eat while you’re here.
Last year I wrote a post similar to this one, the first installment in a series I didn’t even think about doing at the time. Now it kind of makes sense and I think it’ll be fun to continue with the theme. Sausage and Pickled Jalapeño Pizza: An Ode to San Fransisco was my pizza obsession for the longest time after my last trip to The Golden Gate City. I tried to replicate a pizza pie I devoured there, as best I could. Julian called me the other day, after work, convinced he had just come up with the greatest pizza idea ever, he suggested Jambalaya Pizza to me and it all sort of made sense after that. An ode to New Orleans was a must.
This is one of this one pan for everything type of recipes. I know it’ll seem like a lot of steps at first. You’ll think, “Jonathan, you’re crazy for making us brown everything separately!” But once you see how easy it is, you’ll forget all about it. We’re going to start by browning the andouille sausage, super important ingredient in traditional Jambalaya. In a large skillet, cast iron or pot, heat the oil and throw in the sliced sausage. Cook until brown and crispy.
**Note: Andouille is a Cajun/Creole style sausage which can typically be found in most grocery stores. If you can’t find it, feel free to use any other smoked sausage!**
Next up is the chicken and shrimp. Cut the chicken (boneless skinless chicken breast) into small chunks. Remember, this is going on pizza. You don’t want to put large pieces on top because it’ll weigh it down. For the shrimp, makes sure to peel and devein them. Place them in two separate small bowl and toss with a bit of Creole or Cajun seasoning blend.
**Note: A mixture of garlic power, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper would do just fine in a pinch, if that’s all you have on hand.**
Remove the browned sausage from the skillet and add in the chicken. Cook until brown and crispy as well.
Remove the chicken from the skillet (make sure there’s still a bit of oil in the pan) and then throw in the shrimp. Again, you know what’s coming next, cook until brown and crispy.
**Note: Shrimp on pizza might sound crazy and even scare you a bit, but I promise it’s delicious. Don’t be scared.**
Next up are some bell peppers. Cut half of a red bell pepper and half of a green bell pepper (saving the other halves for later) into large chunks. Remove the shrimp from the skillet, and add in the green and red bell peppers. Sauté until soft and just beginning to brown.
Now, now that all the tedious work is done, let’s work on the sauce! Remove the bell peppers and add in a bit more oil if needed. Throw in the finely chopped onion, garlic, celery, and bell peppers (reserved from earlier) and cook with a bit of black pepper, Creole seasoning and fresh thyme.
**Note: This is considered to be “The Holy Trinity” in Cajun cooking. Onions, peppers, celery and garlic are usually the base for most dishes in Louisiana. Just throwing a bit of trivia your way…the more you know!**
Stir in the crushed or diced tomatoes into the veggies and reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while, until the sauce has thickened and reduced a bit. As the sauce cooks and the veggies soften, take the back of your wooden spoon (or a vegetable masher) and mash everything down a bit to create a chunky sauce.
Once done, remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool down slightly. You don’t want to add scorching hot sauce onto your pizza dough. In the meantime, you can roll out your dough.
Roll out your pizza dough into a large circle (or rectangle if you like that sort of thing) and place it onto a pizza stone or baking sheet, sprinkled with a bit of cornmeal at the bottom.
**Tip: If you don’t have time to make your own pizza dough, you can just use store bought. Or even go down to your local pizzeria, they’d probably sell you some dough. If you do want to go that extra mile and are feeling adventurous, make your own dough! Here’s a recipe on the site for Basic Pizza Dough.**
Spread out the sauce onto the rolled dough and top with lots of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Top with all of the browned goodies from earlier. Evenly space out the chicken, sausage and shrimp around the pizza. And last but certainly not least, add the sautéed bell pepper chunks. All the things on classic Jambalaya right??! (If I missed out a few, it’s only because this pizza could only hold so much).
Cook in a 475ºF oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown around the crust and the cheese is bubbly.
**Note: Be super careful putting in and taking out the pizza from the oven because it’s set at such a high temperature. Be especially careful if you’re using a pizza stone or pizza steel, you don’t want to touch that at all.**
Garnish a with few sliced scallions right out of the oven. It gives it that little pop of color but also a good flavor to round everything out.
If you’ve ever tried Jambalaya and love it, then you need to give this pizza a try as soon as possible. Get in the kitchen this weekend and make it. Sure, it’s a gourmet pizza and sure you’ll feel extra fancy when eating it, but don’t we all just need a little more fancy in our lives? We definitely need more pizza in it, that’s for sure.
Call me crazy, but there’s so much on this pizza that it’s actually filling all on it’s own. I do think it’s a good idea to serve it with a simple side salad because it tricks my mind into thinking I’m making a few healthy choices in my life. Also, it makes me feel better when I go in for seconds and thirds.
If you’ve never tried Jambalaya before, you’re missing out and we can no longer be friends. But before we part, I’ll give you a chance to make it up. Before you make and try this pizza, you must cook up a big pot of Jambalaya and give it a try. I say to make a big pot because you’ll definitely want leftovers and because my recipe on the site makes a large pot. Right after you fall in love with it, then you can make this pizza. They’re practically the same dish, it’s scary.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 andouille sausage links, sliced
- 1 chicken breast, diced
- 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning blend
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 yellow onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 celery stalks, minced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 (14 oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes
- 2 pizza doughs (store bought or homemade)
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3 scallions, sliced
- Preheat oven to 475℉.
- Heat a large pot or skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once hot, add the sausage and cook until crisp and browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the sausage and add in the chicken. Season with a few pinches of Cajun or Creole seasoning blend and cook until crisp and browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken and throw in the shrimp. Season with a few pinches of Cajun or Creole Seasoning blend and cook until pink and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cut half of the red and green bell peppers into large chunks and the other halves into a small dice (reserve for later). Add the large chunks of bell pepper to the skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to soften. Remove from the skillet and set to the side.
- Add the onions, garlic, celery, and reserved bell peppers (the small dice) to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes to soften. Season with a bit of Cajun or Creole Seasoning and the fresh thyme. Stir in the tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until reduced and slightly thick. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Roll out the pizza dough into large thin circles. Place on pizza pans, baking sheets, or pizza stones, with a sprinkling of cornmeal at the bottom (or olive oil to prevent sticking). Spread both doughs with the sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Divide the chicken, sausage, shrimp and sautéed bell peppers among both pizzas. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and crispy and the cheese is bubbly. Carefully remove from oven and top with scallions. Cut and enjoy!
- yield: 2 pizzas