Jambalaya

 

jambalayaTo my way of thinking Jambalaya is about one of the best dishes on the planet. A chicken, sausage and rice dish, it is believed to have been derived from the Spanish Paella but has a Cajun flavor to it. Having grown up in rice country in Louisiana, we ate rice regularly but my favorite was always Jambalaya. Spicy as you choose and full flavored, it is filling and satisfying to the tastebuds. Those of us from Cajun country like to use Cajun Andouille Sausage but because that is not available throughout the U.S. you can use regular beef, pork, or beef and pork sausage and simply add a little cayenne pepper to balance the flavor.
Andouille is twice smoked and spicy which gives the dish its light kick. I regularly make trips to Louisiana to pick up a large supply of Manda Andouille Sausage to keep ready for use in my freezer. We like it many ways, grilled, fried or used in gumbo, beans or Jambalaya.
You will find that making Jambalaya is easy and allows your own interpretation of the flavor combinations according to your personal preferences. Less spicy or more, less chicken or sausage, more tomato sauce or less, brown or white rice. Play with the recipe and adapt it to your taste and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. This recipe makes a very large amount. You may want to cut the meat amounts in half.

Serves 8-10 generously

  • 1 3-4 pound fryer, cut up – or 8-10 chicken pieces of choice, skin on
  • garlic powder, salt, pepper to season chicken
  • ¼ – ½ cup canola oil or bacon drippings or combination of the two
  • 2-3 links Andouille Cajun sausage or 1 pound other beef or pork link smoked sausage
  • 6 cups (48 ounces) chicken broth
  • 4-6 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes or ½ cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2–2 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, more or less to taste
  • *¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper – if you like it spicy/li>
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric, optional
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed or ½ cup chunky diced celery
  • ½ cup green pepper, diced
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1½ tablespoons purchased minced garlic or 3 large cloves fresh garlic,
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-2 ½ cups uncooked brown or long grain white rice (or a combination of the two)
  • large skillet for browning meat
  • 7 quart or larger pot (Dutch oven type preferable) sprayed or rubbed with cooking oil

Preparation
Season each chicken piece on both sides with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Spray, or rub, a large skillet with oil, add cooking oil and heat over high heat to hot but not smoking. Reduce heat to medium high, add chicken skin-side down, one piece at a time, and lightly brown on each side.
While chicken is browning, cut sausage into bite size or smaller pieces.
Put cooking pot over high heat and add broth, tomato sauce, parsley, salt, pepper, turmeric, bay leaves, celery seed (if using seeds instead of fresh) to pot and stir well. After liquid comes to a low boil, reduce heat to medium and let simmer. When chicken is browned, add it to cooking pot and simmer while browning sausage in skillet. Add browned sausage to pot with chicken.
Reduce heat under skillet to medium and sauté green pepper, celery (if using fresh celery), and onion about 3 minutes stirring frequently. Drain excess oil from skillet then add garlic and sauté briefly.
Add the water to skillet and deglaze by scraping all brown bits from bottom and sides of skillet into water.
Pour everything from skillet into simmering cooking pot and bring liquid back up to a gentle boil over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for about 40 minutes (or until chicken is cooked) before adding rice. Remove bay leaf, taste liquid, and adjust seasonings if necessary.
When using brown rice, add rice to liquid, stir well, and bring back to simmer. Cover and cook over medium heat about 40 minutes or according to package directions (I find my brand takes longer than the package suggests), stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. Cook an additional 20 minutes over very low heat, without stirring.
For long grain white rice, add rice to boiling liquid, bring back up to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and steam 30 minutes or according to package directions.
When using a combination of brown and white rice, cook as above but cover and cook brown rice 30 minutes on a low boil, then add white rice, bring back to a boil, lower heat to simmer, cover and steam for another 30 minutes. Rice is done when tender but not gummy. Turn off heat and let Jambalaya sit with lid on for at least 20 minutes before serving so that remaining liquid may be absorbed. You can prepare the meat and liquid one day and cook rice another day if more convenient. The flavors get even better overnight.
This is a complete meal when served with a side salad.
Recipe may be cut in half.
I guarantee you will enjoy a down home delicious day with Jambalaya on the menu. Eat hearty and let me know what you think.

Peggy Sholly
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