(Jambalaya of chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage and rice - recipe in post)
Jambalaya! It just sounds fun doesn't it? Makes me think of jazzy bras instruments and cajun dancing... although I've never been to New Orleans.
The Boyfriend's family has, however, and are big fans of the cuisine - and that was the first thing I remembered when it came to making a meal for them. Good, robust, southern cooking... that I could do! I couldn't ask for anything easier. Meat and rice, a couple of veggies, a handful of creole seasonings, and you're well on your way to a big helping of happiness.
And how fitting, with Mardi Gras right around the corner? Even though I don't participate in lent, or the traditional Ash Wednesday fasting, I certainly don't have any gripes about a big hearty meal on Fat Tuesday.
I chose some of the classic Jambalaya fixings of chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage, but whatever combination of meats (or even non-meats) you prefer will do. The level of heat is adjustable as well, so whatever your taste this dish is sure to please.
Yes, I hear the Jambalaya purists cringe when I suggest this could be made meat-free, but what can I say - add some of the same seasonings as would be in a good sausage, but replace the protein with veggies or tempeh, and you're set for one tasty vegan meal!
(Recipe very loosely based off The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook)
Makes ~6 servings
1 lb. skinless chicken thighs - bone in
1 lb. shrimp, with tails
1 lb. andouille sausage
3.5 cups chicken broth
5-6 bay leaves
1 tsp. canola or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
18th-1/4 tsp. cayenne or red pepper flakes (or less to suite your tastes)
1 tsp. celery seeds
1/2 tsp. dried basil, oregano, and thyme
1/4 tsp. tumeric
32oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (reserve the juice from the can)
2 cups long grain rice (white or brown)
Salt to taste
In a pot over medium heat, combine chicken broth, shrimp tails, and bay leaves. Let simmer 20-30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, or Dutch oven, add 1 tsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until well browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper, and add to the pot with all the fat from the sausage. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side, or until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
(Optionally spoon away some of the fat in the pan if it looks like to much, or to make it slightly less rich.)
Add the onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Stir and saute for 1-2 minutes, then add all of the spices. Let the spices cook for a minute or so to release some of their flavor into the oil, then add the tomatoes, mashing them up with your spoon as you go.
Slice or chop the sausage, and return it and all of the chicken to the pan.
Strain the chicken/shrimp broth into a large measuring cup, and add enough of the reserved tomato juice to make 3 cups of liquid (for white rice) or 3.5 cups (for brown rice) - use a little more chicken broth if you don't have enough tomato juice.
Pour the liquid into the pot, then add the rice. Stir to make sure it's evenly distrubuted, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for about 35 minutes. Uncover, stir in the shrimp, and continue to cook as needed until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
At this point the chicken will be fall-off-the-bone tender, and you can either serve it as is, one thigh per serving, or pick the bones out and shred the meat into the rest of the dish.
Season to taste, and enjoy!
Easily customizable, freezable, reheatable, and crowd-pleasable. If you're looking for a whole lot of flavor with not a whole lot of effort, this is where it's at.
Be prepared to fall in love, because this is one recipe I plan to revist again and again. Definitely one for the books... The cookbooks, I mean.