Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jambalaya


Jambalaya is one of Steven's favorite foods since he really loves hearty, stick-to-your-ribs dishes. It's a one pot meal that has pretty much everything: starch, various meats and seafood, and a trio of veggies (plus or minus tomato). There are so many variations to jambalaya it's almost dizzying; it can be made with chicken, shrimp, ham, duck, even alligator, tomatoes (Creole style) or without (Cajun style).

I still don’t understand the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine but one thing common to both is the “holy trinity”: onion, bell pepper, and celery. These three aromatic vegetables make up the backbone of many dishes in the Bayou. Other notable trinities include the French mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) and bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, bay leaf), the Italian soffritto (olive oil, onion, and garlic) and a trinity of tomato, basil, and garlic, and many more.

Chorizo or linguica can be substituted for andouille but since they're less spicy so you may need to increase the amount of cayenne and maybe add some paprika. I've heard great things about smoked paprika. I'm not sure how much salt I added because I rarely measure it (maybe around 1/2 tsp), I just taste and work my way up.

Jambalaya
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on, and trimmed of excess fat
8 oz andouille, cut into 1/4 in coins
8 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 medium onion
1 medium bell pepper
1 rib of celery
1 1/2 C long grain rice, rinsed well (I used short grain since it was all I had)
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne
Additional paprika or smoked paprika (optional)
14 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained but reserve juice
2 C chicken stock
1/2 C reserved tomato juice
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil
Parsley or green onion tops for garnish

Finely chop onion, bell pepper, and celery to a 1/4 in dice or pulse in a food processor (do not puree).

Heat 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken skin side down and brown for 5 minutes; turn and continue browning for 3 more minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add sausage; brown, stirring occassionally, for 3 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel lined plate.





Drain excess fat from the pan, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan (Don’t pour this down the drain or it will clog the pipes). Add the vegetables and cook while stirring and scraping up the browned bits until softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the rice, cayenne, paprika if using, and toast for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato juice, browned sausage, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Remove the chicken skin (try to remove in one piece to make chicken crisps but this is optional) and nestle the chicken thighs skinned side down in the pan.

Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. This is when I peel and devein my shrimp. Stir once keeping the thighs on top, cover and simmer again until the chicken is fully cooked, about 10 more minutes (juices run clear). Remove the chicken thighs and bay leaves and scatter the shrimp over the top of the rice (cooking the shrimp at the end helps keep them from becoming rubbery). Cover and simmer another 5 minutes (4 -5 minutes for small shrimp, longer time for larger shrimp).

Meanwhile shred the chicken with 2 forks. After the shrimp turns pink, remove from heat and add the shredded chicken. Stir to incorporate everything.



Garnish with fresh parsley or green onion tops and serve with Tabasco.

Serves 6

Optional: Chicken Skin Crisps
Leaving the skin on the thighs and cooking them in the jambalaya turns beautifully browned skins to a flabby mess that adds more grease to the dish. Both Steven and I like chicken skin but I realize not everyone is a fan of it, so this is completely optional.

After removing the chicken skins from the thighs, instead of tossing them, I sprinkled some salt and pepper on top and baked them in the toaster oven at 300ยบ F for about 5 - 10 minutes, flipping them over halfway. This renders most of the grease out of the skin and leaves them super crispy. Drain them on paper towel and serve with the jambalaya on the side or crumbled on top.

Links:
Jambalaya at Simply Recipes

3 comments:

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Looks yummy. I haven't made mine in a long, long time. I always think of jambalaya as the New Orleans version of fried rice. And paella is just the Spanish version of fried rice. Heh. :P

Amy said...

Hi WC,
I never thought about it that way but you have a point! :)

Tessa said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ruth

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