Saturday, February 14, 2015

Mardi Gras Favorite - Spicy Sausage, Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya or Étouffée

With Mardi-Gras upon us, I found this recipe at a fellow food blog (the Cozy Apron) which sounded like both a great way to celebrate and to warm up the winter. As is usual, I found it necessary to make a few modifications to the recipe and present my revised version below.

Julian's Jambalaya
This recipe is really a combination of jambalaya, gumbo and étouffée. It's not exactly any one of these.

Jambalaya is usually meat and/or shellfish along with vegetables (with or without tomatoes).  The rice is simmered into the mixture before serving making it closer to the Spanish paella. Gumbo is also a mix of vegetables and meat and/or shellfish but it is thinner and served as a soup alongside rice that's cooked separately. Étouffée is a main course (not a soup), made of one type of shellfish (usually crawfish or shrimp) that's been smothered in a thick sauce and served ladled over rice. So mine is rather a combo version.

Is this Creole or Cajun?  Creole gumbo uses okra for flavor and thickening and I include it in my recipe too. Cajun gumbo uses file powder for thickening and flavor and is more based on chicken, sausages and game, though seafood can be an ingredient.  I suggest you purchase either spice blend based on availability at your local store. If they have both, I prefer the Creole spice to the Cajun.

However you prepare it with whatever spice you choose, it's quite delicious on a cold winter night. If you prefer a more classic jambalaya, then simply cook the rice in the broth about 30-40 minutes prior to serving time.

Ingredients (Serves 6):

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced*
2 skinless/boneless chicken breasts halves
       cut into bite-size pieces
Pinch Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large bell pepper, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons, tomato paste
1/2 pound okra, sliced into 1/4 - 1/2" slices
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups chicken stock, hot
1/2 pound peeled and cleaned, medium size shrimp (raw)
1-2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Garlic Rice (recipe below)

Note: If you can't get Andouille sausage then consider any other tight, spicy sausage you have available. If you prefer a non-spicy dish, then go with a smoked sausage.

In the pot ready to serve.

Cut the meats and chop the vegetables as noted above. I used a food processor to get a fine chop on the vegetables with little effort.

Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add the oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the sliced sausage and cook, stirring regularly until brown on all sides. Remove the sausage from the pot and set aside. Add the cut chicken pieces into the pot along with a sprinkle of the Cajun or Creole seasoning and brown in the oil/sausage drippings (about 5 minutes). Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

Add the chopped celery, onion and bell pepper, and cook stirring regularly in the oil and drippings about five minutes. Add the bay leaves, the Creole/Cajun seasoning, the cayenne pepper, another pinch of salt and black pepper, and stir to combine.  Stir in the garlic for another minute or two. Add the tomato paste, and cook for about 1 minute then add the sliced okra, diced tomatoes with juice, hot chicken stock, and the browned sausage and chicken.  Stir to combine and allow the stew to simmer gently on low uncovered 1-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Replace the lid if it's getting to thick. You may turn off the heat and hold the dish at this stage for several hours. If you do, return the dish to mid-high heat and when warm, move to the next step.

Prepare the rice (see below).

Add the shrimp and simmer for 2-3 minutes so as not overcook the shrimp.  Finish by stirring in the chopped cilantro, and serve over the rice.  Taste and if you prefer it more spicy, add hot sauce, red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, if desired. This can be done individually at each bowl as well.

Rice in cooker ready to cook.
Garlic Rice
Prepare 3 cups of dry white rice according to your rice cooker instructions or the instructions on the package, except add 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic to the rice at the start of cooking.  Cook until tender (about 30 minutes) and serve with the Jambalaya spooned over top.

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