Monday, October 24, 2011

Jambalaya - First Try

I had a craving for some jambalaya, so I decided to give it a try using a recipe from one of Paul Prudhomme's books (former head chef of the famous Commander's Palace in New Orleans) as inspiration. I was very pleased with the results from my first try and I'll definitely be tweaking it next time - me thinks duck fat and dark beer will amp up the flavor a lot more. Obviously, probably not very authentic, but pretty damn delicious.

Store Bought Cajun Seasoning
1 tbsp chipotle powder
4 chicken thighs
5 andouille sausage links - cut into bite sized pieces
3 springs of thyme leaves minced
2 stalks celery diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded, and diced
1 onion diced
4 green onions sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
4 sprigs thyme - mince leaves only
2 bay leaves
3 cups long grain rice
2 cups crushed tomato
4 cups chicken broth
salt and black pepper

1) Sear the meats in a heavy bottom pot. Sear sausages on both sides over medium high heat and remove. The andouille will give it a great smoky flavor and make it taste like jambalaya. Season chicken with cajun seasoning, sear on both sides only (not fully cooked), and remove. Remove chicken skins (you can make chicken skins which are delicious) and pour out all but 1 tbsp of chicken/sausage fat.
2) Saute vegetables and aromatics all seasoned with salt and pepper on medium heat - holy trinity (onions, peppers, and celery), green onions, thyme, bay leaves, 1 tbsp cajun seasoning, chipotle powder, and garlic until soft. Make sure to scrape up some of the brown bits at the bottom. Some notes - the trinity is the other base that really makes this taste like jambalaya...incredibly awesome and totally permeates the entire dish. Also, I know chipotle powder is not authentic, but I didn't have any cayenne pepper. Chipotle still gives you the hot flavor, but adds smokiness which is killer in the jambalaya.
3) Cook the rice - by sauteeing it for a minute or two until rice is coated with the chicken/sausage fat. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, chicken and sausage, bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, shred the chicken and fold into the rice, serve and enjoy. Oh, and btw - jambalaya served on top of crispy chicken skins is stupid eff'n good.

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