Have you ever had jambalaya? Not the kind out of a box but the homemade dish like what you get in New Orleans?
I'm talking tender bits of chicken, succulent shrimp, spicy sausage in a cajun flavored rice.
There are plenty of recipes all over the web but the best belong to the king of jambalaya - Emeril Lagasse. And he has more than one recipe to choose from. He has a creole version, a cajun version, one with duck, one with chicken... you get the idea.
My neighbor Julie has adapted and perfected one of his versions - instead of duck she has substituted chicken. Because it's just what we prefer and chicken is easier to find at the grocery store. I'm lucky she has shared her version with me so that I can share it with all my readers.
I promise – make a big pot of this jambalaya and you'll be the favorite neighbor on the cul-de-sac.
It does take time to chop all the vegetables ahead of time and simmer the rice slowly but the end result is well worth the effort. When she makes this I'm always happy to be on hand to help out in the kitchen.
The chicken and andouille sausage are chopped into bite-size pieces. The shrimp is peeled and deveined and all the veggies are fresh and softened over medium heat to perfection. No canned varieties allowed.
And while Emeril uses a smaller amount of his cajun seasoning we boost it. Because it's delicious with that Louisiana bam!
You can make the cajun seasoning from scratch (see below) or pick it up at your local grocery store.
Now Julie swears that what makes this dish so tasty is the final sprinkle of chopped parsley and green onion used to garnish each bowlful. And I would have to agree.
What's great about this recipe is that it makes plenty for leftovers. It's even better the next day.
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Makes 8 -10 servings. Total time 1 hour 30 minute
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound andouille sausage, diced
2 cups chopped red onions
1 cup chopped orange bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons Creole seasoning (see recipe below)
2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 bay leaves
1.5 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
6 cup chicken broth
2 cups long-grain white rice
2 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped green onions (green and white parts)
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Emeril's Creole Seasoning - Yield: 2/3 cup
2.5 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly
Season the shrimp and chicken separately with the creole seasoning. Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat. Cook the shrimp for 3 to 5 minutes then remove to a bowl. Next cool the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes and remove to a bowl.
Add the diced sausage to the pot and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add the onion, celery, peppers, salt, cayenne, 1 tablespoon of the creole seasoning, and black pepper and stir until softened about 7-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and bay leaves and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes give off some of their juices, about 2 minutes.
Add the thyme, broth, and chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 50 minutes. Add the rice and bring back up to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is barely tender, about 10 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes, covered. Stir in the green onions and parsley to the jambalaya. Toss the bay leaves and enjoy.
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse.