In my opinion, there are two types of jambalaya—Cajun and Creole. The main difference is that in the Creole version, the rice is cooked in a tomatoey sauce that might include shrimp along with meat and sausage. The Cajun approach is more rustic. Searing and caramelizing the meat and onions individually prior to simmering everything together develops not just color but a deeply browned taste. I prefer the way the chicken and sausage flavor blend into the rice in the Cajun version, creating a dish with a robust meaty flavor. Reducing the chicken stock concentrates the flavor and adds a unique saltiness that you just can’t achieve by adding salt. I call it the MSG effect. (Be sure to add the vegetable trimmings to the chicken stock.) This dish becomes even more flavorful after it sits for a while, and it’s delicious at room temperature.–Donald Link
LC Cajun Cast Iron Note
The only way we can think to improve upon this authentic recipe is to insist, as the recipe already does, that you rely on a cast-iron pan. There’s nothing, not a thing, that we’d change.
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Recipe
Hands-On Time: 1 hour | Total Time: 4 hours | Serves 6 to 8
- One 3- to 4- pound chicken, roasted
- 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
- 2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
- 1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium onions, 1 quartered and 1 diced small
- 10 cups cold water
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 pound smoked sausage, diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon Donnie’s Spice Mix
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed
- 1. Pick all the meat from the chicken and discard the skin. Shred or chop the chicken, as you prefer. Save all the juice and fat from the roasting pan (or store container, if you’re relying on a rotisserie chicken) in a separate container. Refrigerate both until needed.
- 2. Trim and dice or mince the bell peppers, jalapeno, scallions, celery, and garlic, reserving the trimmings. Place the chicken carcass, quartered onion, and vegetable trimmings in a large pot. Add the cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 1 hour, skimming any foam from the surface as necessary. Strain the broth and discard the solids. You should have about 6 cups of stock.
- 3. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and sear until it starts to color, turning as necessary. Parts of the sausage will begin to stick to the pan. When there is a goodly sausage-y coating stuck to the pan, pour in 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and cook, stirring and scraping the skillet, until it comes loose. Let this simmer gently until all of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the sausage to a plate.
- 4. Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the butter, and heat until it melts. Add the diced onion and cook until it starts to stick to the pan, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and let this reduce until the skillet is dry (or au sec, as they say in French kitchens). Continue to cook until the onion turns a nice, deep, brown color, about 5 more minutes.
- 5. At this point the onion will start to stick to the pan again. Add ½ cup of the chicken stock and simmer. When this is almost gone, add the bell peppers, jalapeños, scallions, celery, garlic, spice mix, salt, bay leaves, oregano, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, for 10 more minutes, until things start to stick to the darn skillet again. Deglaze with another ¼ cup stock and reduce again until the skillet runs dry. Add the shredded chicken, 1 cup stock, and the defatted juices from the chicken and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
- 6. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and add the sausage, rice, and the remaining 4 cups stock to the pot and stir well. You want the mixture to have plenty of room so the rice will cook evenly. Heat, covered, over low heat for 40 minutes.
- 7. Remove the pot from the stovetop and keep covered for 10 minutes while it rests. If the rice seems a little unevenly cooked, leave the lid on a little longer and it will even out. When the jambalaya is done, transfer it to a casserole dish and serve. (If you leave it in the pot it cooked in, the jambalaya will continue to cook and become dry.)
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Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Recipe © 2009 Donald Link. Photo © 2009 Chris Granger. All rights reserved.