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Thursday, March 19, 2009


If you keep a sense of adventure about your food, you'll try the most amazing things.

A couple of years ago, some friends of ours were hosting a potluck dinner party. They chose a Mardi Gras theme, and gave out related food assignments. We were the last to RSVP, and so all of the usual dishes were already assigned. "Why don't you make jambalaya?" they asked.

We had never actually eaten jambalaya. As far as we knew, we owned no jambalaya recipes. But we did a little looking around on the internet, mixed this recipe with that one a little bit and improvised a little more. We don't know how close this dish actually comes to the real thing, but as we've adjusted and perfected it over time, it's become a favorite with our family and guests. It's perfect when accompanied by some grilled catfish, basted with melted butter and seasoned with Creole seasoning, available at most supermarkets. We've tried it as a main dish, but it's a little intense without the fish to mellow it out.

It's fairly simple to make, althought it does require a lot of chopping:

along with a few canned goods (just showing off our exclusive taste in tomato products here):

Saute the sausage in a large frying pan until the edges are crisp. I slice it in about quarter-inch slices and then quarter each slice, so they're fairly small pieces. It would work just as well to leave them as rounds.

Add the vegetables and saute; then crank up the heat to medium high and add the chicken.

Cook until it's brown. Then add all of the other ingredients, bring it back to a boil, and then cover and reduce to low heat.

The test of whether it's done or not is when the rice is cooked. The jambalya will be fairly wet; we prefer it that way as long as the rice is fully cooked.



Makes 6-8 side dish servings

6 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup andouille sausage, chunked (we've always used polska kielbasa instead)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon. cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon thyme, minced
1 teaspoon oregano, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
3 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 scallions, chopped
1 cup long-grain rice

In a large saucepan or frying pan, warm canola oil over medium heat. Add sausage; saute until crispy on the edges, about eight minutes. Stir in onion, celery, green pepper, saute until tender, about five minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add chicken thighs and saute until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Return heat to medium; stir in cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic. Continue sauteing about 3 more minutes.

Stir in tomatoes with their juices, tomato sauce, chicken broth, scallions and rice. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to very low, cover and cook for 30 to 35 minutes or until rice is fully cooked.

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