Joon·teenth, Jambalaya, and Joy.

Written by: Rodney Gray Jr. @rodneygraycooks on IG


Juneteenth is the celebration of the last remaining slaves being informed that they were free. Slaves in Galveston, Texas, were informed by federal troops that they are, ”Free.” At this point, at least on paper, African-Americans in the United States were free. Apparently, the meaning of free at this point was subject to interpretation because history (If you really pay attention to it) tells us that black people were only free-ish.

I promise, a recipe is coming, but I would be remiss if I did not give you any back story.

The Jambalaya

There are a few things that I like about Jambalaya. 

Firstly, RICE. 

Charleston Red Rice, Purloo,Pilaf, Jollof, Jamabayla, Paella, Risotto. The list goes on.

Few things in the world give me the joy that rice does. Rice is affordable enough to pull up at a college kids dorm, cultured enough to be featured in almost every region of the world dressed in its best outfit to fit right in, and still find time to be the main attraction at a fine dining establishment. 

For my application of the grain, we have Jambalaya. Drawing roots from Louisiana, Jambalaya is strong enough to hold it is on and score 50 a night, but it does not mind sharing the court with other accoutrements. It’s a straightforward recipe that can be tweaked and modified to your liking.

Finally, the recipe.

Holy Trinity:

A culinary cheat code. Way before, I was in a restaurant or at some person’s mansion cooking food. I knew that bell pepper, onions slapped. Toss in some celery, and now you’re really on to something. Equal portions are key here; it keeps everything balanced.


Slaps, Slapped-(v)- something that tastes good

The Meats:

Time to go full Arby’s. Savannah Sausage Company generously supplied me with some Cajun Andouille Sausage. Combined with some home-smoked chicken thighs and we are on our way.

The Chicken Stock:

If you don’t worry, I will do it myself. Were a thing in the kitchen, it would probably be chicken stock. But, cooking snottiness aside, the store-bought stuff will do just fine. 


So, Yeah, garlic goes in everything. Those are the rules.

Recipe Recap for those who need it.

Serving for 6–7

1 medium-sized onion diced

1 medium-sized bell pepper diced

2–3 Celery ribs sliced.

1 clove of garlic, minced

3 Cajun Style Andouille Savannah Sausages

1/2–1 Lbs Prepared Smoked Chicken Thighs

2 Cups of Washed Rice

4 1/3 Cups of Chicken Stock

1 tablespoon butter (You look great, enjoy your butter)

Sautee your sausages until they get a bit of color, add in your holy trinity until everybody is nice and tender, toss in your garlic and butter. Add in your rice and stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until all of your liquid is gone/your rice is tender.

The Catfish:

I love Catfish, and it’s one of my favorite types of fish. Generally affordable. (Looking at you, Red Snapper) and even the most abysmal fishermen (Looking at myself in the mirror) might be able to reel one in. Cleaning the entire catfish can be a pain, especially if you pierce the intestinal system and you have a mess on your hands. The key to any crispy anything is a hot oil (350 degrees) and avoiding moisture. This isn’t a buttermilk-fried catfish, so the flour and cornmeal mix should give you a crispy, fried, hard crust.

Fried Catfish:

Equal parts Cornmeal and All-Purpose flour. Seasoned with your favorite cajun seasoning

1 1/2 Catfish
Oil for frying

Straight forward instructions here. A light seasoning of salt and pepper on the catfish and tossing it into the seasoned flour mixture. Serve with lemons and your favorite hot sauce. Mine is Red Clay Carolina Hot Sauce.

Bonus Round:

Jambalaya pairs well with several things. Coincidently, during my preparation for this post, I was originally going to post the rice alone. My uncle gifted me some collard greens, and I graciously added them to the party. Rodgerwoods foods were kind enough to gift me some tasty Smoked Pork Jowls. Pork jowls are a cut of meat from the pig’s cheek. Originally I was going to cook the jowls for a Bucatini All’amatriciana dish, taking the traditional guanciale.

But, who am I to pass up collard greens and rice? Collard greens also slap.

5–6 slices of Rodger Wood Smoked Pork Jowls

Roughly 1–2 1’2 lbs of collard greens

1/2 Small onion

1 Tablespoon of butter (You look great, enjoy your butter)

Olive Oil

2 cloves of Garlic

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Smoked Paprika

Black Pepper

Garlic Powder

Onion Powder

Pinch of Sugar

Kosher Salt

Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar

2 cups of Chicken stock

Sautee your onion in some smoking olive oil until translucent, add your Rodgerwoods Foods smoked pork jowls and butter until crisp, Add your collard greens and saute, stirring vigorously, and add your stock as your greens begin to wilt. Season and allow to simmer until tender. 


IN, Closing. If you have read this article, Bravo. Thank You’s are for Rodger Wood Foods for making this possible. Juneteenth is a celebration of black history, and a large portion of black history are foods that have been passed down and shared with generations. Jambalaya is part of Ernest Gray’s (my grandfather) influence on me, and collard greens William McCall’s (grandfather on my moms’ side) influence on me. With great pride, I took to continue to teach and grow my own knowledge in the years to come. I can appreciate brands taking the time to honor black culture and give those among us resources to create and educate others.

In the Kitchen Somewhere,

Rodney Gray Jr.

Happy Juneteenth.