I love the food of New Orleans, with all its porky, deep-fried goodness. If you doubt that, read this.
But, there are ways to lighten up the traditional New Orleans dishes, while keeping them deeply savory and swoon-worthy. If you're getting ready for your Mardi Gras party next week, here's your recipe: Spicy Andouille, Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya. Yes, it's healthy. But, very good. Even better, you can make it ahead (it's better that way!) so you can throw masks and beads to your guests instead of slaving over the stove.
It's a pretty simple recipe, not much different than making a soup or a stew. But, there are a few tricks.
First, be sure and brown your chicken and sausages first, before you add the onions, celery and carrots. Get them even more brown than this.
Add all of the aromatics to the pot, scraping up those brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, to release the flavor.
Add the spices to the vegetables, allowing them to 'fry' in the olive oil. The air should smell toasty and spicy.
Once you add the rice, you need to let it cook for about one-and-a-half hours. The brown rice just takes that long to absorb enough liquid and get tender. Don't skimp on time.
Finally, don't add the shrimp until the very last minute. If you make this the day before, don't add the shrimp until you serve it. Just reheat (adding water if necessary) and then add the shrimp and cook until just done. Otherwise, the shrimp will be rubbery and overcooked.
Finally, enjoy, preferably with the people who bring joy to your life. Laissez les bon temps roulez!
Spicy Andouille, Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 links of andouille sausage
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/8 - ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending upon how spicy you want it
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cups medium grain brown rice, rinsed well
1 cup beer (like a lager or ale)
2 cups homemade chicken stock or water
1, 14.5 ounce can of whole fire-roasted tomatoes with juice, tomatoes torn in pieces
3 - 4 scallions, sliced
Sea salt, to taste
½ pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
Heat a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and sausage slices. Cook the sausage until well-browned. Remove sausage from pan and reserve. Add chicken thighs, in one layer, being sure not to crowd the pan. Cook until deeply browned on each side. Remove and add to sausage. Set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium. To the pot, add the onion, celery, bell pepper and a little sea salt (about ½ teaspoon), cooking until the onions are translucent, and scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits from the sausage and chicken. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the spices (paprika through black pepper). Cook for several minutes, until the vegetables are completely coated with the spices and it begins to smell toasty. Add the rice and cook for a few minutes, until rice is also coated with spices.
Add the bay leaf, chicken stock or water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if necessary. Stir in the sausage and chicken. Cover pot and simmer for about 1 ½ hours, or until the rice is completely cooked through and tender. Check the liquid after about 40 minutes to make sure it hasn't cooked down too much. If it seems dry, add another half cup to a cup of stock or water. When rice is fully cooked, add the shrimp and simmer, uncovered, a few minutes or until shrimp are just cooked through. Remove the sausages and slice into 1 inch pieces, on the diagonal. Garnish with sliced green onions.