With Super Bowl Sunday and Mardi Gras right around the corner, now is the perfect time to offer this soul warming jambalaya which I have been making ever since purchasing Emeril Lagasse’s Louisiana Real & Rustic cookbook about 20 years ago (wow..time sure does fly when you’re cooking a lot). It’s one of the few recipes I made the first time exactly as written and have not made any alterations since.
The secret to transforming what is a very simple list of ingredients into this richly flavored and complex dish is the technique. Don’t rush the process and add the ingredients exactly as written.
It’s all about the slow caramelization and layering of flavors and seasonings. Slow cooked onions and peppers melt into the browned andouille sausage. By the time the rice is added to saute, you should have beautifully browned bits in the bottom of the pan which, when deglazed with water, add an incredible richness.
A few specifics about the ingredients. I know 1/2 cup of vegetable oil seems like a lot and honestly the first time I made this dish, I thought it was a typo! But it does end up getting absorbed by the meat and rice and this makes a generous 8 portions so that amounts to about 1 TBS per serving. Your choice of course. If you wanted to reduce it to, say 1/3 cup go for it!
For the rice, I prefer medium grain rice, which will give you a slightly stickier texture reminiscent of risotto. Long grain is fine too but I would caution against some brown rices that may take longer to cook (check the package to be sure!).
Finally for the meat, I just LOVE this combination of spicy andouille sausage and tender chicken thighs. You can also use a combination of chicken breasts and thighs or, just breasts alone. And if you’re not a huge fan of spice, regular kielbasa or any kind of smoked sausage can be substituted for the andouille.
Jambalaya is perfect “one pot meal” for a group of friends or Sunday supper with the family. Easy, economical and comforting on a chilly day. I absolutely LOVE this recipe and have not and probably will not ever change a thing!
Until next time, be well, eat well and love lots.
Emeril’s Andouille and Chicken Jambalaya*
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1 pound andouille sausage (or regular kielbasa), sliced 1/4″-thick
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces (or a combination of breast and thigh meat)
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 cups medium-grain white rice
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup chopped green onions
Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottom Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, 2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of cayenne pepper. Stirring often, brown the vegetables for about 20 minutes or until they are caramelized and dark brown in color (lower heat after first 10 minutes if vegetables start to scorch).
Add the sausage and cook, stirring often for 10-15 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot to loosen any browned particles.
Season the chicken with the remaining 1 tsp of salt and remaining 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper then add to the pot along with the bay leaves. Brown the chicken for about 8-10 minutes, continuing to scrape the browned particles from the bottom of the pot.
Add the rice and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to coat evenly. Turn up heat and add about a cup of the water and bring to a boil scraping up remaining browned bits. Add remaining 5 cups of water. Cover, then reduce heat to medium/medium-low and simmer for about 30 to 35 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed.
Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Stir in chopped green onions and serve.
* Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse Louisiana Real & Rustic