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Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

Monday, January 28, 2013

Recipe adopted from The New Best Recipe.


These past few weeks have been a little odd due to the fact that so many Louisiana food-based influences have popped up.  First, I met with a good friend a few weeks ago and we cooked up an amazing meal of Cajun fried catfish, cornbread, and sweet potato fries.  Then a week ago my sister joined me for my first Madison Restaurant Week experience, which just so happened to be at a New Orleans themed tavern.  Additionally, the current episode of a favorite food show that I watch took place in New Orleans and highlighted some of their staples, Cajun suggestions have come up at work lately, and current food magazines of mine have highlighted the cuisine.  Needless to say, you probably have a good idea of what types of posts to expect in the near future.

I decided to start off what will be a Louisiana-themed month with one of the most widely known dishes:  jambalaya.  Although some talk about this dish interchangeably with gumbo, there definitely are some key differences.

Similarities:
  • Both use onions, peppers, and celery (known as the holy trinity) as their mirepoix [meer-PWAH].
  • Both have French and Spanish influences.
  • Both commonly use one or more of the following:  chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage.
Differences:
  • In addition to sharing French and Spanish influences, jambalaya also has Caribbean influences (among others) while gumbo has West African influences (among others).
  • Gumbo uses a roux as a thickener (and often uses okra as a thickener as well).
  • Gumbo has a stew-like consistency and is served over rice, whereas jambalaya is a one-dish meal that has the rice already incorporated (similar to paella or dirty rice).

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
8 ounces andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 medium onion, finely diced
1 medium celery rib, finely diced
1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
5 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 large bay leaves

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the chicken, skin-side down.  Cook for 5 minutes and then flip and cook the underside for another 3 minutes, or until golden brown.  Don't worry about fully cooking the chicken at this point, as it will finish cooking with all the other ingredients later.

Transfer the chicken to a plate, reduce the heat to medium, and then add the andouille sausage.  Cook for a few minutes (until lightly browned) and then transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chopped vegetables, and cook until softened.  Add the rice, salt, thyme, and cayenne and cook for one minute.  Add the tomatoes, clam juice, broth, bay leaves, and sausage to the pot.  Stir to combine.  Remove the browned skin from the chicken and place the chicken thighs skinned-side down on the rice.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir once and continue to simmer with the cover off until the chicken is fully cooked (about 10 more minutes).  Once fully cooked, transfer the chicken to a clean plate.  Add the shrimp to the jambalaya, cover once more, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the shrimp is fully cooked.  Shred the chicken and add to the jambalaya once the shrimp are cooked.

Lastly, remove and discard the bay leaves and garnish with parsley.

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