Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Red Hot Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a classic Creole dish of New Orleans. As most people know, it is rice-based, and it incorporates lots of ingredients. It is related to paella, but it lacks the saffron that defines its Spanish cousin. The recipe that I'm going to share with you is known as a "red" jambalaya, so-called because of the extensive use of tomatoes. While I'm going to put some twists on it (including using inspiration from Bobby Flay's Fra Diavolo Jambalaya  and my own use of Indian spices), my recipe here incorporates many classic aspects of jambalaya, including the use of both meat (andouille sausage and chicken) and seafood (mussels and shrimp), the inclusion of the "trinity" base (peppers, onions, and celery), and the cooking of rice in the same pot as the meat. It takes time to prepare, but it's hearty and leaves plenty of leftovers!

- 2 red bell peppers, cut into rough slices
- 1 pint grape tomatoes or 4 roma/plum tomatoes
- 1/2 head of garlic, skin on
- 6 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 8 chipotle peppers + 2 tbsp of adobo sauce
- 12 oz. Andouille Sausage, cut into slices
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 sticks of celery, finely sliced
- 1 green bell pepper and 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 tbsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp + 2 tbsp chili powder (Indian - can substitute cayenne pepper)
- 3 cups rice (Basmati or long grain)
- 1 box seafood stock (16 oz.)
- 1-2 lbs. mussels, scrubbed
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled
- 3 chicken breasts, cubed
- Olive oil, salt, pepper

First, I preheated the oven to 375. I put the sliced red bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and half head of garlic on a baking sheet and drizzled with a generous amount of olive oil. I roasted these for about 30 minutes, until the peppers and tomatoes had a bit of char, and the garlic was golden brown.

I squeezed the garlic cloves out of the skin into a blender along with the tomatoes and peppers plus the chipotles and adobo sauce, pureeing the mixture to form a smooth sauce. This can be set aside for the moment.

Next, in a large pan, I heated a little oil over medium heat, and then began to cook the andouille sausage. Most andouille is already cooked when bought, and the sausage will fully cook in the stock later anyway, so you don't need to worry about cooking it through. The goal here is the caramelize the sausages just a little bit, as you can see below. When this is done, set the sausages aside to drain on a paper towel. 

In the same pan, add a bit of oil to the already rendered fat of the sausage, and then add 1 tbsp. of minced garlic and 1 tbsp. of chili powder. When these become fragrant, add the shrimp, allowing them to absorb all of the great flavors in the pan. Slightly undercook the shrimp to the point seen below (it will cook through in the stock later), and set it aside with the sausage.

In a large stockpot or dutch oven (avoid non-stick - cast iron or stainless steel are best here), heat some olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the onion, celery, and diced peppers (the trinity) until soft. I used both green and red peppers for color, but you can use just green (this is more classic) if you like.

Once the trinity is softened, add the remaining garlic and chili powder, along with the crushed red chili, and cook until fragrant (about a minute and a half). Add the chicken breast and cook until browned on both sides. Season with salt to taste after browning (not before, as this will leach out water and prevent browning). Add the the rice grains to the pot at this point. Once the rice is added, you must keep moving the food with your spatula to prevent burning. Do this for about 2 minutes. The rice should be fully coated with oil and flavorings at this point.

Now add the seafood stock and the chipotle puree you made earlier to the pot. Stir everything together and season with some salt. When the stock comes to a boil, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, open the lid, and add the chorizo and shrimp back to the pot. Cover and cook another 5 minutes. Next, add the mussels, and again re-cover the pot. Cook until mussels have opened and the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. Discard any mussels that did not open. Remove from heat. Garnish with fresh herbs of your liking and fluff rice before serving. This dish is very spicy and hearty, and the amount I made here is enough to feed an army! Enjoy it fresh and leftover!

1 comment:

  1. I hear it was spicy enough to please your palette while allowing those who are spice-scared enjoy it as well!