“The minute you land in New Orleans, something wet and dark leaps on you and starts humping you like a swamp dog in heat, and the only way to get that aspect of New Orleans off you is to eat it off. That means beignets and crayfish bisque and jambalaya, it means shrimp remoulade, pecan pie, and red beans with rice, it means elegant pompano au papillote, funky file z’herbes, and raw oysters by the dozen, it means grillades for breakfast, a po’ boy with chow-chow at bedtime, and tubs of gumbo in between. It is not unusual for a visitor to the city to gain fifteen pounds in a week–yet the alternative is a whole lot worse. If you don’t eat day and night, if you don’t constantly funnel the indigenous flavors into your bloodstream, then the mystery beast will go right on humping you, and you will feel its sordid presence rubbing against you long after you have left town. In fact, like any sex offender, it can leave permanent psychological scars.”
― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
The jambalaya a few nights ago was an easy weeknight version the menu once again dictated by the contents of the freezer and the vegetable bin. With all of the of the necessary elements prepped, chicken, sausage, peppers, onions, celery, and a few spices not really called for in an authentic jambalaya, but then again I’m not from NOLA so it is to be expected that I will make my own version instead of one of the fantastic recipes available. I think folks in LA have their own versions perfected, yea and I bet they eat it once a week so why wouldn’t they have it perfected and perhaps why jambalaya contents conversations can end up in heated wars as I have learned. Moving right along…
My notes: Start with bone-in skin on chicken thighs, season with pepper and Creole/Cajun seasoning of choice, brown, toss in herbs and some of the vegetables. Add the concentrated stock and water simmer until the chicken is ready to be set aside to cool a bit before removing from the bone. The broth is defatted and reserved for the jambalaya of course and for this version which I say is not an authentic version, but suites my taste. I use some of the fat from the broth to sauté and further season the vegetables and ultimately the pot of jambalaya. The added treat is that you still have plenty of flavorful stock for other dishes. Now if you choose to use a store-bought rotisserie chicken remember that you will not have a hearty broth.
Have all of your vegetables, herbs, and stock ready then it is just a matter of putting it all together in a Dutch oven or wide sauté pan to cover and finish in a 350° oven for about 30-40 minutes. Some of the vegetables are used for the stock (these will be strained from the broth) and the rest are sautéed with the sausage.
10 bone-in chicken thighs
2 medium onions, one diced the other in quarters for the stock
¼ cup diced green pepper for stock plus
¾ cup diced for the sauté
2 stalks of celery broken into pieces for the stock plus
¾ cup celery diced for the sauté
6 San Marzano tomatoes drained and squished plus a little of the sauce from the can
½-3/4 pound kielbasa, andouille, or Italian sausage, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
1 each chicken and beef Knorr Home-style concentrated stock
6-7 cups water
*Optional Saffron, about a teaspoon, a pinch for the stock and the rest for the sauté
2 Bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Dashes of hot sauce
1-1-1/2 cups rice cup rice I liked jasmine, but use what you like and add the amount of stock according to rice package directions.
Garnish with green onions and have hot sauce to spice it up a bit.