I’d like to say I’ve been on vacation and that’s why I haven’t written lately, but honestly, the time away has been more about working on admin issues here. Although I’ve learned quite a bit about websites and CSS and can fake code like the best of the posers since I’ve started blogging, suffice it to say that countless hours were spent last week reading through instructions to connect some dots that weren’t designed to go together. Call me stupid tenacious. Or stubborn. Okay, how about a royal pain in the ass?
I was less than thrilled with this ultimate waste of time which nagged at me so much, the idea of doing anything but that at my Mac was impossible. The silver lining on that one is that I was able to focus! Nice. So right now, I’m calling it a truce to cool down a bit before I decide to choose a different route.
What better way to do that than talk about food, right? Exactly. And what better food to discuss than Jambalaya? No, I’m not from New Orleans, and to my knowledge, no one in my family is Cajun that I know of….but I love the flavors, the ease with which it comes together, and the sheer number of variations available.
Jambalaya is a One Pot Wonder that can be made with what you have on hand — almost. And the pay off is big. The resulting flavors remind me of a dish that has cooked for hours. It’s easy on the budget, too. It takes a bit more effort than fried rice, but nowhere near the energy that risotto or paella take, so even my son has manned the Wolf long enough to put a nice meal of Jambalaya together before with very little bossing from his mother.
Are you sold? No?
Okay, but maybe I’ve got you thinking…
But wait! I also just found out (and I’m getting the impression I should have known quite some time ago…) that I’ve been nominated for Best Food Blog: Humor by Haley of Appoggiatura. Goodness! This is so cool because I’m someone who never even won the “Who can spoon the most cotton balls blindfolded” game at baby showers. Talk about a lifetime of feeling incompetent.
Which must explain my obsession with food, right? I’m sure there’s a couch for me somewhere… If you have the time, check out all the great nominees in all the categories and vote, vote, vote.
For the jambalaya…
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. Andouille
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/2 c. bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 c. celery, chopped
1 c. canned diced tomatoes in puree
3/4 c. long grain white rice
1-1/4 c. chicken broth
1 T Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 chicken thighs
1 lb. shrimp, shelled, tails on (reserve shells)
2 T flat-leafed parsley, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
For the seasoning…
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1-1/2 tsp. fresh sage, sliced thin
1 pinch herbes de provence
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Shell the shrimp and set aside. Place shells into a lidded saucepan and add the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a low simmer, and allow to simmer about 20 minutes. Pour broth through a strainer and toss the shells. Keep the broth warm.
In a large, oven-proof covered pan, heat the olive oil and over medium heat, cook the chicken thighs skin side down first, about 7 minutes on each side before removing from the pan and setting aside. Add the Andouille to the same pan and cook just until it begins to brown.
Mix together the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and add half of this mixture to the pan with the Andouille. Cook until the veggies begin to soften and add the tomatoes. Stir to mix and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the rice. Allow to cook an additional 2 minutes before adding the chicken/shrimp broth, the rest of the vegetable mixture, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic.
Add the chicken thighs to the rice mixture, making sure they’re nestled deeply into it. Put the lid on the pan and place in the oven to bake about 30 minutes.
Remove pan from the oven and add the shrimp, herbs, and onions. Stir well, and return the covered pan to the oven for at least 10 minutes or until chicken thighs are done and shrimp are opaque and pink.
- Although I’ve been to New Orleans a couple of times, I’ve never been to Jazzfest where I understand quite a great time can be had by all. I found this recipe from a past Jazzfest and made some adjustments to it.
- About the seasoning mix — the cayenne isn’t too strong for those concerned about the heat. Cayenne leaves a slow and low burn way back in the mouth and not the sharp sting that can be associated with raw peppers. It’s nice, but if you’re not sure about it, then cut the amount in half.
- Believe it or not, those shrimp shells actually do add flavor to that chicken broth, so if you can, take the time to add this step. And the chicken broth? Although I try different kinds, I nearly always use Superior Touch Better Than Bouillon Base. If you’re not familiar with it, it comes in an 8 oz. jar and can be found in most grocery stores right where the bouillon cubes are. It’s about $5 a jar, and like others, a tsp. makes a cup of broth. The flavor is so excellent, I sip it with some slivered green onions for lunch at times.
- Andouille is a spicy type of pork sausage often associated with Cajun cooking. The first time I made Jambalaya eons ago, I used kielbasa and it tasted great. Use what works for you.
- On the veggies: the mixture of onion, celery, and bell pepper is called the Holy Trinity and is referenced routinely in dishes originating from New Orleans — like Gumbo.
- On the chicken: We love thigh meat, and because we like how it tastes cooked on the bone, it was worth the extra step to keep it together for this dish. If you’d rather, cook the chicken, let cool and break it into pieces, then add it when you add the shrimp just to heat it.
- Depending on your oven or other variables (type of pan, fit of lid…), you may need to add more liquid to the rice mixture when you add the shrimp. Have about 1/4 c. extra broth on hand, or water if you prefer. Just make sure it’s very hot before you add it.
- Have fun mixing up the ingredients and making it your own!