Monday, October 29, 2007

For my girl Amie and her little man Sean

OK, break out your favorite choppin knife, do some quick hand stretches and a couple deep knee bends. We’re going to delve into the world of Cajun cuisine with one of my favorite meals ever, Jambalaya. Amie’s son Sean asked the other day about marvelous dish and she knew just who to call, and then I knew just who to call and bribe to get all the ingredients so that I could do the step by step for this happy little blog, “oh mom…….. how bout I treat you to a meal you don’t have to cook?” To which she squealed with glee and ran to the store for all the fixings. So join me in this most loverly of comfort foods and then treat your family with a culinary trip to the deep south of New Orleans.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

2 T. butter
1 tsp. oil (corn or canola works best)
3 lbs chicken breasts
1 kielbasa sausage
1 pound fully cooked hot links
1 yellow onion
3 scallions (green onions)
2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
3 stalks of celery
2 T. fresh parsley
3 cups white rice
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
½ - ¾ tsp black pepper
¼ - ½ tsp chili powder
2 bay leaves
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 28oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 cup tomato puree
3 ¾ cup water
3 T. chicken bouillon granules

First we need to do a bit of prep work by slicing, dicing, and chopping.

We need to cube up the chicken into bite sized pieces and then transfer them into a bowl and move to the fridge until we are ready to cook it off. Remember that all raw meets need to stay refrigerated until they are ready to be cooked in order to avoid nasty bacteria’s from invading and making us sick. You should also use one cutting board for meats that is non-porous and another for vegetables to avoid any cross contamination.

Next we are going to cut up both the sausage and the hot links. Cut them into about ½ inch thick slices. It’s important to get hot links that are fully cooked so that they are able to hold their shape while cooking. You can move these to the same bowl since they will be added to the dish at the same time.

Next we are going to chop up the onion. I always use a yellow onion but you can use a Spanish white if you like a little more onion flavor. We need about ½ to 1 cup of chopped onion for the dish so you may only need ½ of the onion.

We are also going to use some scallions in this dish to add a second level of onion flavor. These onions lack a fully developed bulb and tend to have a mild flavor and have the added bonus of adding color to the dish. Slice these fairly thin from the tip to roughly ¾ of the way up the green stem.

Now we are going to move on to the bell peppers. Bell peppers contain a recessive gene that prevents capsaicin, the oils that create the heat commonly associated with peppers, from being produced, so they lack the spiciness that many other varieties of peppers have. Therefore you will often heard of these peppers referred to as sweet peppers. They do contain seeds the need to be cleaned out before you chop em up. The easiest way to achieve this is to slice them in half using your hand just pull out the seed pod and stem all at once, or you can just cut the top off and pull out the pod. These need to be chopped into chunks, not diced to fine.

On to the celery (we’re almost done with the manual labor, stay with me the end result is so worth it all). This is a nice easy slice about ¼ inch big.

Ok last chopping part, everyone together woohoo! Take a small handful of the parsley leaves off the top making sure to not have any of the stems included. Chop this really finely and then do a happy dance as we get ready to move on to the main event!

Combine the two tablespoons of butter and the oil into a large stock pot. On med-high heat melt them together stirring to combine.

Add the chicken into the hot oil and brown on all sides. When the chicken is no longer pink remove the pieces and set them aside. If there is any liquid remaining from the chicken discard.

Add a bit more oil if needed to the hot pan and stir in the onions, peppers and celery.

Stirring regularly cook vegetables until they begin to soften and the onions turn translucent. This step may take up to 15 minutes, and must not be rushed or the flavors will not develop fully.

While the vegetables are doing their thing mix all the spices together into a small bowl. Doing this will ensure the spices will be evenly distributed when they are added to the pot. This mixture will included the garlic powder, salt, black pepper, chili powder, bay leaves, thyme and nutmeg. Once the veggies are ready add in the mixture of spices and stir to combine.

Here’s where it gets fast. Add the sausage and hot links.

Next goes in the rice. Stir really quick.

Now the can of crushed tomatoes with their juices.

And then the tomato puree.

In goes the water.

And the bouillon.

Finally add the chicken back into the pot.

Stir really well to get all the spices and rice combined into the liquid. Bring the pot to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes stirring ever 10 minutes to prevent sticking.

You may need to add some water towards the last bit of the thirty minutes if rice is still crunchy. After the 30 minutes has elapsed uncover and cook for 15 more minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the chopped parsley.

Serve in a bowl with a little hot sauce if desired and cuddle into your favorite spot with the family. Yummmmerssssss!
On a side note you can add/or substitute (for the chicken or sausages) shrimp and/or ham.
Also if you don’t want to watch the pot on the stove for 45 minutes you can turn the jambalaya into a deep casserole dish, cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

I hope you take the time this fall/winter to make this absolutely lovely, yummy, down right comforting meal. And if you love it hug Amie and Sean, it was their request. Is there something you’d like to learn how to make? Let me know and we’ll get it done!


Amie said...

Thank you Christine! (I don't suppose there's any left at your house that we can sample...?)

We'll have to try this in a couple weeks. =)

Jaime said...

It looks Yummy... I'll have to try this soon.