If you are a reader, you may recall that I spent several years in Louisiana during my childhood. I have many fond memories of Cajun/Creole country, but it is the food that stands out the most. Mardi Gras is next Tuesday and although I will not be hanging out on Bourbon Street saying "Throw me somethin' mister", I will be enjoying a festival of foods between now and then.
Jambalaya-- the mere mention of it puts that Hank Williams song in my head. If you don't know what I am talking about, watch the movie Steel Magnolias and you'll catch my drift. There are two types of Jambalaya (actually, there are three, but I'll just talk about the two most common versions). The types are Creole and Cajun, both consisting of three parts; meats, vegetables, and rice. Both use the southern holy trinity of onions, celery, and bell pepper, but the Creole version adds tomatoes and sometimes tomato sauce to the dish making it a "red" jambalaya. Both are equally tasty and I have many recipes, but today I am sharing a Cajun version.
The chicken and sausage are browned in a pot then removed. The vegetables, seasoning, and rice are sauteed in some of the pan drippings before broth is added and brought to a boil. The chicken and sausage are placed back in the pot, covered, and simmered until the rice is fluffy (and further seasoned by the meats) and the chicken is cooked through.
Garnish with a few chopped green onions, fresh parsley, and a couple of good dashes of Tabasco. This is a one pot meal with deep flavor. Bake up a batch of New Orleans French Bread and "whoooee, I gar-on-tee" (said in my best Justin Wilson voice) Hank Williams will be singing in your head too!
♪♬ Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou! ♪♬
Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 chicken (about 2 1/2-3 pounds), cut into serving pieces, patted dry with paper towels, and seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 - 1 pound andouille sausage or kielbasa, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups white rice
3 dried bay leaves
3 cups chicken stock
Chopped green onions
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add as many chicken pieces as will fit skin side down to the skillet. Brown until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and brown any remaining pieces in the same manner. Transfer those pieces to the plate. Add the sliced sausage to the drippings and cook until brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a plate.
Drain and reserve 3 Tablespoons of the drippings in the pan. Add the onion, celery, and bell peppers and saute until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the cayenne, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Stir in the rice and saute for 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, add bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Return the chicken and sausage to the pan, cover and cook until the broth is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Gently fluff the rice with a fork, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Garnish with chopped green onions and fresh parsley. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Joy of Cooking, 1997 and Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen