Phoenix has hit a cold snap. Last week was warm, overly so for January. I was sweating in my tank top Friday afternoon during my after work hike. Last Saturday was rainy and chilly, and then the storm cleared. The last two mornings have been in the mid 30s – which has a challenge when a friend and I went for a sunrise hike on Sunday (we almost turned around and went straight to the coffee house). And, upon hearing the temperature, my sweet 15 year old daughter uttered “What the F!”. Except, as a sophomore in High School, she no longer censors herself, so used the full word. I knew when making my menu, that I needed something spicy and delicious, and filling. And, something that could feed a bunch of people, since Monday is a D&D night, and is the only game that we play in person at our house. Jambalaya fit the bill nicely. But, there are some drawbacks to this decidedly New Orleans classic, which is normally made with a trio of meat: chicken, andouille sausage, and shrimp. Those drawbacks are my friend and DM Mia, who is deathly allergic to shrimp, our warlock Staci and my aforementioned 15 year old (who often helps out Mia as the Dungeon Master’s familiar) who both hate shrimp, and me, since I have not eaten pork in years. Luckily, it is an easy fix, as the dish is just as delicious without the shrimp and there are some really good chicken andouille sausages out there. I use the package from Trader Joe’s, but have also gotten some from both Safeway and Frys (Krogers). And, at least for the one from Traders, it is Gluten Free, so wonderful t for special needs diets.
Oh, a fun story about this dish. I have been making it for ages, and it is not my daughter’s favourite, as she is not a huge fan of spicy. But, I love it so I make it anyway, it is great to warm up for leftovers, and like chili, it gets better one or two days later. I did find the secret, though, to get my daughter to eat it, well, two secrets. First, is lowering the spice that goes into the dish, so that the vast majority of the spice comes from the sausage and she can always avoid it, and the I just add a few dashes of Franks Red Hot to my bowl and mix well. The other is the bribe factor- dessert! My daughter loves regional dessert and I have taken to matching dessert to the main dish- so, Souflette for Coq Au Vin or Tarragon Chicken, Sticky Toffee Pudding for Shepherd’s Pie or Bangers and Mash, and usually Beignets for Jambalaya, but tonight was Bread Pudding (thanks to pursuing an Alton Brown Cookbook).
Serves at least 8
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package (normally 12.5 ounces) andouille sausage ( I use chicken), sliced thin
2 pounds chicken breast, diced into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion , diced
1 ½ green peppers, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, do not drain
1 cup rice (I use a quick cook brown basmati rice, you can use anything as long as it is not minute rice! Do not cook the rice first)
1 cup chicken broth
Spices- use to taste
Paprika (I use at least 2 teaspoons)
Cayenne pepper (I use ¼ teaspoon)
Turn stove to medium high
In an enameled dutch oven or extra deep/large skillet or frying pan with a lid, warm up the oil
Brown the sausage
Once that is browned, throw in the trinity (cajun term for the base aromatics of onions, peppers, and celery) and cook until the onion is slightly translucent.
Add the chicken, tomatoes, broth, rice, and spices.
Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for at least a half hour, until the chicken and rice are cooked.
Taste and adjust spices as needed at the end.
This dish serves a crowd and is easy to add extra meat or veggies to bump up the volume. Like most good things made in a dutch oven, the leftovers are even better.