Monday, April 9, 2012

Not so namby-pamby Jambalaya

I was... excited about this cookbook*. (yay!) less than thrilled with this recipe. (boo!) not gonna let that be the end of it. (ooooh...look out now!)

I fixed it. (You go, girl!)

Not So Namby-Pamby** Jambalaya
I adapted the original recipe to use my technique for adding deep flavor to this type of dish, starting with the sausage first, then slowly adding all the rest of the ingredients in layers.  That way you get all those great spices and onions and peppers and meat blending into the rice with every hearty bite.   It's almost criminal to have it any other way.  (yeah, I'm talking to you, Mitchell!)

1/3 c. olive oil
1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into 1/3-inch rounds
1/2 lb. good quality smoked ham, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into ~ 1 inch squares
2 Tbs. cajun seasoning***
1 Tbs. butter
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 tsp. smoked or regular salt
1/2 tsp. onion salt
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 Tbs. minced garlic
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
3 inner stalks of celery, with leaves, chopped
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, partially drained (some juice is OK)
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 c. long-grain white rice
3 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 bay leaves
chopped Italian parsley and/or scallions, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.

In a heavy bottomed, oven-proof pot, heat about a third of the olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the sausage and cook until seared and caramelized.  Remove the sausage from the pot, and set aside.  Don't eat it all!  Add the ham, get that nice and caramelized, too, then set it aside with the sausage.

Add another third of the olive oil to the pot. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with a little of the Cajun seasoning, then add to the pot and cook until just beginning to brown. Remove that from the pot and put it with the ham and sausage.

Add the onions and the butter, and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 4 minutes Add the rest of the Cajun spice and the different salts, and cook for another minute or two, stirring from time to time, until the onions smell really good and are nicely brown and caramelized. Scrape the bottom of your pot as needed to loosen up any browned bits.

Add the last of the olive oil, the garlic, green peppers, jalapeno and celery, and stir to combine. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and cook for another minute or two.

Return most of the sausage and all of the ham and chicken to the pot, reserving about 1/2 c. of sausage.  Stir in the rice and the chicken stock. Bring the whole thing to a boil. Remove from the heat, tuck in the bay leaves, cover the pot and transfer to the oven.

Cook until the rice is tender and the liquids have been absorbed, about 30-35 minutes.  Keep cover on and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. While the jambalaya is resting, reheat the extra sausage in the oven, wrapped in foil.  Chop into smaller dice when it's warm.

To serve, spoon into shallow bowls, garnished with a spoonful of the warm sausage bits and some freshly chopped parsley or scallions. Goes really well with Broiled Bread and Butter!

Click to Print this Recipe!

* I mean, just go look at this sampler! And Town Hall is one of my favorite places to eat in SF.  (Rats!)
 ** Per Merriam-Webster:
1: lacking in character or substance : insipid
2: weak, indecisive
The original recipe was all of those things except, perhaps, indecisive.  It was somehow flavorless and way too peppery at the same time.  Loads of cayenne and jalapeno do not a good Jamabalaya make!
*** His recipe calls for a custom spice mix, which I actually made the first time around.  I much prefer Tony's.  

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