I grew up with jambalaya being a regular weeknight meal. It was my mom's favorite Creole dish, so I was accustomed to the scent wafting through my house as a kid. No holiday dinner was without it as well. I ate so much jambalaya that there was a point in my life where I got sick of eating it. Jambalaya and I officially consciously uncoupled.
I never thought I'd find a new way to fall in love with jambalaya, but here I am. During Club Quarantine, I've been reaching back for dishes from my childhood that brought me comfort. Jambalaya came across my mind the other night. I really wanted that old thang back. I ended up using the ingredients I had on hand and made the best jambalaya pot of my life.
This is not my mama's jambalaya. She was an advocate of baking jambalaya; I was too lazy to turn on the oven. She wouldn't dare use anything besides Mahatma long grain white rice; I made do with the medium grain white rice I picked up from the local Asian supermarket. What I thought would be a struggle pot, ended up being the holy pot. The medium grain rice brought a risotto like quality to the jambalaya that absolutely transformed the dish. I ended up having two heaping servings in one sitting. The only thing missing was some delicious wild caught shrimp.
If you have the ingredients on hand, I encourage you to make some jambalaya. You can even freestyle with the protein options. The beauty of one pot cooking is that you can always make it your own!
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
Chicken seasoning (see recipe below)
6 strips of thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into half-inch rounds
1 medium green bell pepper, cored and diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3 tbsp. tomato paste
One 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
4 cups of chicken stock (one 32-ounce carton, if not using homemade)
2 tbsp. Creole seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's)
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
2 ½ c. uncooked medium grain white rice, washed*
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
*If you only have long grain white rice on hand, it'll probably look more like 3 cups of rice. Just know that the texture will be different (less sticky and more dry).
1 ½ tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. dried thyme
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40-45 minutes
Total Time: 60-65 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings
In a medium bowl, combine the chicken pieces and chicken seasoning. Set aside.
Heat a large Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon and set aside. Drain off some of the bacon fat, so you're left with about 2 tablespoons (enough to coat the bottom of the pot in a thin layer of fat).
Add your andouille sausage and cook till nicely browned. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside. Now add in your seasoned chicken. You may need to add the chicken in batches. You're not looking to cook chicken, but get a nice sear on the outside. Once finished browning, set aside.
Add the celery, bell pepper, and onion to the fat drippings. Cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, and cook for another minute or two.
Once the veggies are cooked, adjust the heat down to medium and add the tomato paste, Creole seasoning, thyme, and cayenne. Let it darken a bit by cooking for about 2-3 minutes. This will help with the acidity from the paste and add more flavor to the dish.
Now add the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and bay leaves. This is your time to taste test and determine if it needs more salt, pepper or any other seasoning. After adjusting seasonings, add the chicken and bring the pot to a boil. Now add the sausage and rice, turn heat to low, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes. To avoid rice sticking to the bottom of the pan, you may need to give a good stir halfway through. I ended up doing so, which added about 5 minutes to my cooking time.
When the rice has finished cooking, turn off the heat and move the covered pot to a cold burner. Let stand, undisturbed for 15 minutes. Stir in bacon and optional parsley just before serving.