Cajun-Creole Jambalaya

jambalayaThis can loosely be called the Louisiana version of Paella. The only real difference is that I bake this in the oven to finish it off, as opposed to cooking it on top of the stove. This is a crazy good dish, a complete meal in itself.

Again, I first got turned onto Jambalaya on my travels to New Orleans in the eighties. Although the travels were for business, I never failed to tack on vacation time at the end of my business obligations to enjoy the food and culture of New Orleans. While a lot can be said about New Orleans crime and corruption, the one thing that is absolutely certain is that you will never be served substandard food and drinks in that town.

This recipe calls for Andouille sausage. I have never had a problem finding this in my local supermarket, but Tasso or some other kind of smoked ham is a great substitute here. Alternatively, buffalo chicken sausage is great also.

You will need a pretty deep baking pan for this. If your skillet is big enough and can handle oven cooking, you can simply work with that.

Ingredients

3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)

2 cups Andouille sausage, cut in 1/4 inch pieces then quartered

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup chopped onion, divided

1 cup chopped celery, divided

1 cup chopped green bell peppers, divided

3 tbsp minced garlic

1 28-oz can Italian whole tomatoes, undrained and broken up by hand

1 tsp broken-leaf sage

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 whole bay leaves

3 tbsp olive oil

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups long-grain rice (Basmati works well here)

Tabasco sauce (for the table)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat up 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and Andouille sausage, and cook until browned. (The meats do not need to be cooked through.) Remove and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of the olive oil and heat up. Add 1/2 cup each of the celery, onion and peppers, along with the cayenne pepper, sea salt, garlic, sage, basil, oregano and thyme. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Now, we move to the pan you’re going to bake in. Add the meats and shrimp. Then add the cooked vegetables and all of the juices that are left from that process. Add the rice, chicken stock, the remaining uncooked half cup of the celery, onions and green pepper. Add the tomatoes and the bay leaves. Stir everything together.

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour on 350 degrees.

Serve with a full bottle of Tabasco sauce.

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