Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Last week, Michael and I were up late watching TV, and we caught an episode of Bobby Flay's Throwdown on the Food Network. Have you seen this show? Flay is, admittedly, a bit irritating, but it's a fun concept. He travels around to different areas of the country and challenges a local food expert on their native specialty.
As you can probably guess by now, we caught the episode in which he traveled to New Orleans and challenged Jambalaya expert Emile Stieffel. There was no contest. Stieffel's Jambalaya was preferred by everyone who tasted it, and after watching the show, Michael and I decided that we needed to try it for ourselves. It looked amazing.
I found the recipe online. It had been scaled down from a (very) bulk recipe that was meant to serve hordes of hungry cajuns, so some of the measurements were a bit odd. However, after a little visit to our beloved Paulina Meat Market and a few adjustments, we ended up with an extraordinarily delicious and extraordinarily easy weekend meal. I used andouille, though Stieffel recommends just a mild smoked sausage, so our version was SPICY. Dylie was sick so she didn't have any, but Max did us proud and ate away. He's a tough little dude.
1 pound andouille sausage
1-1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
3 onions, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pound tasso, cubed (this is a very highly spiced cajun ham - if you can't find it, you can use regular ham, but you might need to add some extra hot sauce after the dish is complete)
1 tsp. herbes de provence (or, 1/2 teaspoon each thyme and basil)
lots of freshly ground black pepper
26 oz. chicken stock
5/8 pound long-grain rice
Heat a large, heavy pot (I used my giant Le Creuset dutch oven) over high heat. Add the sausage. Move it around frequently with a metal spatula so that the meat doesn't burn. Once the sausage is browned up a bit, add the chicken. Brown it on all sides.
Lower the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes or so. You want the onion to turn translucent. Continue to move everything around a lot, scraping the bottom of the pot to get up all the good bits.
Add the tasso, the herbs, and the black pepper. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. This should start to smell really good.
At this point, you can cool this mixture to room temperature and then put it in the fridge. This will concentrate the flavors, and will allow you to make this in advance.
When you are ready to finish the jambalaya, put it back in the pot, add the stock and bring it to a boil. Add the rice and reduce the heat to medium. Make sure none of the rice is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once the stock returns to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, cover the pot, and DO NOT TOUCH A THING FOR 25 MINUTES.