Happy Mardi Gras! I was not raised observing Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, or any of the other Lent traditions, but I’m certainly happy to use a holiday as an excuse to try a new recipe!
I’ve been a huge fan of hearty one pot meals this winter so last weekend when we realized that Mardi Gras was just a few days away we decided that a flavorful Jambalaya would be the perfect recipe for Sunday night. We consulted our trusty Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe cook book and decided to make their version of a creole-style Jambalaya with shredded chicken thighs, andouille sausage, shrimp, tomatoes and rice. The recipe came together fairly quickly (compared to some of our stews, at least!) and the resulting dish featured an impressive range of flavors from the smoky andouille and clam-juiced shrimp to the fresh parsley, and slow-cooked chicken. Yum!
Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya (from The New Best Recipe; serves 5-6)
You will need…
1 Yellow Onion, quartered
1 Celery Rib, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1 Red Bell Pepper, quartered
5 Garlic Cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil
4 Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken Thighs
8 oz. Andouille Sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ pieces (buy a good brand of Andouille if possible; it should give this dish a lot of flavor!)
1 1/2 Long Grain White Rice (uncooked)
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Thyme, minced (we used dried Thyme)
1/4 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
1 – 14.5 oz. can Diced Tomatoes, drained with 1/4 cup of juice reserved
8 oz. Clam Juice
1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
2 Bay Leaves
1 lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined (we used frozen 30 ct. shrimp and thawed them beforehand)
2 tablespoons minced fresh Parsley
Begin by transferring the onion, celery, red pepper and garlic into a food processor. Pulse the vegetables briefly to finely chop them without pureeing them. We have a miniature food processor so Matt did this in 4 steps (one per vegetable) and then combined all of the chopped veggies together on a plate.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Use tongs to place the chicken thighs in the oil, skin-side down, and cook, undisturbed, for 5 minutes or until golden brown. (Watch out, there’s a lot of splattering!) Use the tongs to flip the thighs over and continue to cook for another 3 minutes, then transfer the thighs to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium, add the chopped andouille, and brown for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. (This step smells amazing, in my opinion.) Transfer the browned andouille to a paper towel-lined plate.
Reduce the heat further to medium low, then add in the chopped vegetables. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot and stir the veggies until softened, about 4 minutes. Add in the rice, salt, thyme, and cayenne and stir well for about a minute to coat the rice in the chicken fat. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato juice, clam juice, chicken broth and bay leaves. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs then use your tongs to place the chicken, skinned-side down, on top of the rice mixture. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes stir the mixture once and flip the chicken thighs over, then cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Place the shrimp on top of the rice mixture then cover and cook for 5 minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. (Be careful not to overcook the shrimp.) When the shrimp are fully cooked remove the pot from heat and discard the bay leaves. As soon as the chicken thighs are cool enough to work with, shred the meat into thin strands with your fingers. Gently stir the shredded chicken and minced parsley into the stew and serve immediately.
Do you have a favorite Mardi Gras-inspired dish or tradition?
Please tell me about it in the comments section!