24 October, 2011

Jambalaya Baby!!

For whatever reason any dish with rice seems to be an alright thing to our Sprout these days, there is precious else he puts up with that isn't rice based or includes mashed potatoes on the plate.  It must be a "phase".  Either way, it didn't take me long to decide the other night to make a big ol' pot of Jambalaya for dinner.  I won't spend a lot of time blah, blah, blahing about choice of ingredients or anything else like that.  Jambalaya is a straightforward dish and you'd be hard pressed in any estimation to make this dish "wrong".  This recipe makes just about 6.5 cups of Jambalaya allowing you to feed 5 or 6 adults or 4 VERY hungry adults.  It is also a wonderful use of leftover chicken from a previous meal...or you could plan to make this ahead by making pan seared chicken breasts a couple nights before and adding extra chicken to the batch JUST so you can make this later in the week.  That's how I roll....

1 lb of raw peeled and deveined medium sized shrimp (21-30 pieces)
1/2 c. white onion, chopped
1/3 c. celery, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp. of minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 T. of canola oil
2 c. chicken, vegetable OR seafood stock
1 can of unsalted diced tomato, UNdrained
1 c. andouille sausage halved then cut into 1/2 in. slices
1 c. uncooked extra long grain white rice
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1 c. smoked ham, cubed
1 c. cooked chicken breast, cubed

Thaw your shrimp if you bought it frozen and set it aside.  In a large pot cook your onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic in the canola oil until tender.  All at once add the stock, undrained tomatoes, sausage, rice, ALL your spices and the bay leaf to the pot.  Bring it the pot to a boil, then reduce your heat to low.  Cover and allow your pot to simmer for at least 15 minutes.  Check your rice, it shouldn't be crunchyish anymore before you add your shrimp.  It should be JUST minutes from being done.  Add your shrimp to the pot and bring it back to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down again to low, cover and let it simmer again for 5 minutes OR until your shrimp is cooked and the rice is tender.  When the rice seems tender enough add in your cubed ham and chicken; allow the ham to heat through completely.  Discard the bay leaf before serving.

I will say for my family we weren't so nuts about how much the seafood flavor stuck out against everything else when I made this with seafood stock rather than vegetable stock.  But, if you are a seafood lover, that may be right up your alley.  We like it with the chicken or the vegetable stock the best.  But, it is a personal preference.  Total time for this meal is less than an hour including the prep of chopping your veggies and meats and cooking it all.  It took me about 40 minutes start to finish.  Not bad when you have a 22 month old pulling at your leg the whole time; determined to NOT allow you to do anything but pay attention to him.  This is an easy dinner and we don't normally feel the need to have anything as a side with it.  If you have a larger family and need it to stretch you could easily pair this with a nice cornbread.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

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