Jambalaya is one of those New Orleans dishes that works well for family gatherings, special events or even tailgating.
The beauty of it is that it a one pot dish that does not take more than an hour to prepare and is a general crowd pleaser.
The type of bacon, sausage and hot sauce is the cook's preference.
Also, feel free to use this recipe as a general guideline. You can easily substitute other proteins, i.e. duck, venison or beef to tailor the dish to your liking.
Left over jambalaya will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to a week, and heats up well in the oven or microwave.
The recipe below serves four as a main course or provides side dishes for six to eight. It requires a two-gallon dutch oven or heavy duty soup pot and a wooden spoon.
CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE JAMBALAYA
1 pack of bone-in chicken thighs, about six to eight
1 32 ounce container of beef broth
2 cups water
½ pound bacon diced small
2 ounces vegetable oil
1 pound smoked Polish sausage split lengthwise and sliced thin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 medium yellow onions peeled and diced medium size
2 green bell peppers seeded and medium diced
½ head celery medium diced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon dry thyme
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Cajun spice
1/2 of a five-ounce bottle of Worchestershire sauce
1/2 of a five-ounce bottle of hot sauce
3 cups converted white rice
Cook the chicken thighs in the beef stock and the two cups of water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes. Remove the chicken and let cool long enough so the meat can be pulled from the bone. Shred the meat and place in a dish on the side. Add the bones back into the broth and keep it simmering on the stove while prepping the jambalaya.
Heat the Dutch oven, add the oil and bacon and cook over medium heat until the bacon is brown and crispy. Add the onion and cook until the onions are lightly caramelized, about 10 to15 minutes. Once the onions are done, add the sausage and cook for five minutes, next add the garlic and cook five more minutes. Then add the celery and bell pepper, sautéing them until they begin to soften.
Stir in the tomato paste and mix in well, add the dry spices followed by the hot sauce and Worchestershire sauce. Add the rice, stirring well to coat the rice. Now strain and add the broth and the shredded chicken. Stir well and bring up to a simmer. At this point, taste the liquid to see if it is seasoned to your liking. You may want more spice or salt, knowing that the flavor of the liquid correlates exactly to how the jambalaya will be when it is finished. Cover the Dutch oven and put the heat to very low, barely a simmer, and set the timer to 20 minutes. When the timer rings, turn off the heat and let the jambalaya rest 15 minutes before serving.
Richard and Jenny Benz are owners of Dick and Jenny's Restaurant on Grand Island. For more information visit http://www.dickandjennysny.com/