Inspiration: I’ve always loved the flavors of jambalaya and consider it one of my favorite dishes (…I say that way too often, don’t I?). For the past several years at Mardi Gras time, I’ve been trying to concoct the perfect recipe for us – which isn’t a traditional one by any means. We always skip the celery and green peppers because we don’t prefer their flavors, and we skip the rice. But I’ve never quite gotten a version that we love just right – until now.
What we Loved: One of the reasons that I love jambalaya in any form is because there is so much going on. Bacon, chicken, sausage, shrimp – what a great variety. Another reason that I love it is because of the heat. This is a spicy dish that pairs well with a nice tall glass of ice water. This particular recipe had both of those components, and then some. After cooking for a few hours, the resulting sauce was amazing. It was rich and somewhat thick, with a perfect blend of seasonings (Cajun spices, peppers and onions that seemed to have melted away, bacon fat, salt, and the juices from all of the meats) that formed a solid backbone for the dish. And I also want to note how much we loved the chicken in this dish. It was the first thing that Brandon mentioned – that the chicken was ridiculously tender. As you can see in the photos, it started shredded apart all on its own. And the pieces themselves were some of the most tender pieces of chicken that I’ve ever tasted. We both truly adored everything about this meal.
Helpful Hints: This is a very spicy dish, so you might want to use less seasonings to suit your preferences if you don’t love really spicy foods. The serrano, cayenne, chili powder, and Cajun seasoning all lend quite a bit of heat, so you could leave some of these out if you’d like (though not the Cajun seasoning, because that flavor is pretty essential to the dish).
Source: Adapted from Guilty Kitchen
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
6 slices bacon, diced
3 links Andouille sausage, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 serrano pepper, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
Kosher salt, to taste
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil. Sprinkle the chicken well with Cajun seasoning, then add it to the pan. Cook until the chicken is just browned on the outsides. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the bacon to the pan, and saute until beginning to crisp. Add the andouille sausage and cook for a few minutes longer until the sausage begins to brown. Return the chicken to the pan.
3. Add the onions, red peppers, and serrano peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes more, until softened. Mix in all of the spices, stirring well to coat.
4. Pour in the tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook until thickened, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
5. Stir in the shrimp and cook until just barely cooked through, about 3 minutes. Serve.