Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chicken Jambalaya

My sincere apologies to any southerners out there. I'm really not sure what a true Jambalaya is, I'll have to research that one, so calling this dish Jambalaya may be a huge culinary faux pas. Forgive me? My mom made this dish often and called it Jambalaya, so I grew up calling it Jambalaya and so now my family calls it Jambalaya. It really can't be too criminal to do so, it's a fun word to say. Jaum-ba-lie-ah. Kind of rolls off the tongue don't ya think?

We'll regardless of what it ain't, what it is is a simple, easy to make one pot meal. It comes together pretty quickly and the possibilities for variation are endless. I'm showing you here a pretty simple version but don't be limited. If you want to spice things up, add some diced green chilies or use a spicy sausage or do both. For more flavor saute some celery and red bell pepper with the onion. Toss in some nuts to add some crunch or give it a Moroccan vibe with some cumin and dried fruit. Skip the chicken and use shrimp* or use both. Or use any kind of seafood*. See where I'm going here. This is a very forgiving dish so tweak, fiddle and adjust to your hearts content, make it your own. I don't mind.

Here's what you need: bone-in chicken - skin removed (a whole cut up fryer works well, I didn't have one so I just used drums and thighs, you could also use boneless, skinless breasts or thighs but you really get more flavor with the bone-in chicken. Use what you like.), olive oil, onion (Yea! my husband is out of town so I'm using a real onion. I'm so excited!), some sausages (I like these nitrate free chicken and apple sausages, adds a bit of sweetness.), white rice, chicken broth, tomato sauce, garlic powder (feel free to use real garlic and add it with the onion), salt and pepper.

Give your onion a nice medium dice.
Ohhh, this is going to be good. Real onion, a treat for me!

Slice the sausage up into 1/4 inch pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven set over a high heat. (This is the Le Creuset French Oven that my wonderful husband gave me for Christmas. I literally screamed when I open it. It's a magic pot. Everything turns out amazing. Get yourself one this very minute. Expensive, yes. . . but worth every penny!) Add the chicken pieces and brown on both sides. You may need to do this in two separate batches so you don't crowd things. The idea is not so much to cook the chicken but to get some good color on the outside and some flavorful brown bits on the bottom of the pot.  Remove the chicken to a plate lined with a few paper towels.

Reduce your heat to medium and add the onion. Cook just until softened. I got distracted and some of the onion browned a bit quickly but, again, this dish is forgiving.

When the onion is soft, add the sausage and cook until both the onion and sausage begin to get some nice color.

Add the rice and saute for just a minute or two. Then pour in the chicken broth and scrape up all those flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pot. 
(In fancy terms "deglaze" the pan.)

Add the tomato sauce, garlic powder, pepper, salt and a cup of water. (Feel free to adjust the salt and pepper to suit your tastes, I'm notorious for under salting and I love a lot of pepper.) Give it a good stir and add the chicken back to the pot. Bring the whole thing to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for 20-30 minutes until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Give the pot a stir now and again to prevent the rice from burning on the bottom.

OK, doesn't look like much in the picture. If I was a better food stylist I'd have a sprig of parsley for color, to garnish the plate. But, as usual, I wasn't thinking that far ahead. I'll get better, I'll work on it, I promise. So what you have is a great one pot meal. Serve it with a fresh green salad and some crusty bread. And the best part is that it makes great leftovers!

Chicken Jambalaya

1 whole cut up fryer, skin removed (or 6-8 pieces bone-in chicken)
2 T. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
12 oz. sausage, sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
1-1/2 C. white rice
1 14.5 oz. can chicken broth
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 C. water
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. pepper
1/2 t. salt

Heat oil in a large Dutch Oven over high heat. 
Brown chicken 3-5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan. 
Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Cook until soft. 
Add sausage and continue cooking until both onion and sausages begin to brown.
Add rice and saute for 1-2 minutes. 
Add chicken stock, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add tomato sauce, water, garlic powder, pepper and salt. Stir to combine.
Add chicken pieces back into the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until rice is tender. Stir a few times during cooking to prevent rice from burning on the bottom.
Serves 4-6

*If you use shrimp or seafood it cooks much more quickly than chicken. Saute it at the beginning just like the chicken but don't add it back into the pot until the last 5-10 minutes of cook time.


  1. Love it! Loved my Le Cruset Dutch Oven too.... Best for everything :)

  2. Thanks Lara! And "Loved", past tense? Don't you have it any more?