The big finish: Easy-to-make shrimp and sausage jambalaya

It’s hard to believe college football’s regular season ends this weekend. Wouldn’t it be great if it lasted from Halloween to the Fourth of July? Sounds preposterous, but that’s basically how long the NBA season lasts. Of course, eight straight months of college football is impossible for a number of reasons, but selfishly, as a fan, I’d love it if the regular season lasted even a little bit longer.

Hopefully the Gamecocks will finish strong with a win at Clemson on Saturday. Since it’s the last regular-season tailgating opportunity, it’s only fitting to finish strong there, too. This easy jambalaya with shrimp and spicy Andouille sausage is just the ticket.

You can use converted rice and cook it in the slow cooker along with all the other jambalaya ingredients, as the recipe directs, but if you want to cook your rice separately the traditional way, in a steamer or pot, and just spoon the jambalaya on top, that works, too. The recipe is from Food Network Magazine, with a few small tweaks. It serves six but could easily be doubled.

Slow-Cooked Andouille and Shrimp Jambalaya

1 pound Andouille or other spicy sausage, sliced ½-inch thick
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup converted rice (see note below)
1½ cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Combine all ingredients except the shrimp in a 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, adding the shrimp during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Discard the bay leaves, then serve.

Note: If you prefer, omit the converted rice and cook regular rice separately. Serve the jambalaya on top.

PHOTO: BILL THRASH