Food & Drink Magazine

Jambalaya

By Miscriant @miscriant
Jambalaya, that smokey, spicey rich dish that tastes of the deep south, a dish that evokes thoughts of warm Louisiana nights down by the bayou as the lighting bugs flit or heady jazz floating through the streets of New Orleans.  Every family will have their own version and their own secret ingredients that go into it. 
Remember to rhyme the 'Jam' with 'Tom' if you want to pronounce it right!
JambalayaI must admit, I romanticise this dish having never been to the deep south of America (and it being on my bucket list of places to visit).  For now, to indulge my fantasy, when I dream of Mardi Gras and Haitian magic, I will put my own spin on this classic Creole meal.
JambalayaIf I was being true to the origins of this dish I would flavor it with alligator and turtle meat, however these ingredients are a little difficult to find in Kent!  There are a few rules that you must follow though.
You always start with the holy trinity - onion, celery and pepper.  You also need a white meat, chicken thighs are my favourite, and good smoked sausage; chorizo or andouille.  Finally (although I left them out of this version as I was feeding a pregnant lady) you want good shellfish, normally prawns or mussels, and finally, rice.  Beyond that, the sky is really your limit.
JambalayaThis version has been taste tested by us a number of times and it is really good.   If you are craving the heat and spice that only the deep south can provide, I recommend this.  
Jambalaya with Hot Sauce
1 medium onion - chopped
2 sticks celery - finely chopped
2 bell peppers - deseeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomato
3 chicken thighs, skin removed and chopped into chunks
1 large, good quality chorizo sausage, chopped
3 good quality smoked sausages, chopped
1 packet raw prawns
300g long grain rice
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp Cholula hot sauce
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground bay
2 tsp parsley
2 tsp chives
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
JambalayaFor the hot sauce
You don't need to make this, you can use shop bought but I just love the smokey rich hot flavor that this adds and end up sloshing it all over my jambalaya.  I would serve it separate in a jug and allow people to help themselves though as the heat levels can be a bit surprising!
2 chipotle chillis
1 birdseye chilli
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
100 ml water
Cooking wise, it's pretty simple.
In a large, heavy bottomed pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil and gently fry the onions, celery, garlic and peppers until they are soft.
JambalayaAdd the chicken, sausage, chorizo, cajun seasoning, chilli flakes, hot sauce and paprika and mix well together, letting the meats slowly brown and allowing the chorizo to release its oils, then add the tin of tomatoes.
Add the rice, bay, parsley, chives, thyme and basil and enough water to cover the jambalaya half way up (you may need to top this up as the rice cooks and the water absorbs).  Bring to the boil and keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally to stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and adding more seasoning and spices if required.
For the hot sauce, soak the chipotles in a mug of boiling water for about 10 minutes, then put the softened chillis and the birdseye chilli (minus the seeds and stem), tomato puree, vinegar, salt and water into a blender and blend until smooth.
JambalayaWhen the rice is cooked you are ready to serve!  We like this with salad, fresh baked bread and a scattering of chopped spring onions on the top for crunch!  This is a fantastic meal to serve if you have people coming over for dinner as it is relatively quick and you can just stick the lid on and let it cook on its own without worrying about it.
Just go easy on the chilli if you aren't sure about tolerance levels!
Grab your friends, make some Sazerac's and stick some Dixieland on.  Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Jambalaya

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