Sunday, February 03, 2008

Chicken Jambalaya

Sun 3 Feb 2008

I have little experience of southern American food, so I have no idea if the following jambalaya is remotely 'right'. It appears this is a cajun jambalaya, as there are no tomatoes. The base recipe comes from A Love Affair with Southern Cooking, by Jean Anderson.

It's a simple dish to put together. First, you have to track down some chicken you feel comfortable eating. I was sceptical my local, tiny supermarket would be able to help out but we found some free range chicken from Lloyd Maunder. You can trace your chicken (in our case, to the Middle Oakley farm north of Yeovil), and read about the farm on which your chicken was reared. And was this expensive? Since I am not a large buyer of chicken I have no idea how the price compares to other chicken, but our boxes of chicken legs came in at just under £4 a kilo. For £3 we had four large legs - enough to do at least two meals for the two of us.

Chicken ethics lesson over.

To make the jambalaya, joint your chicken if necessary, and add to some hot oil in a large pan to brown. Brown in batches and drawn on paper towel. Next, add either andouille, chorizo, or sausage of choice (we had some homemade ones left over from breakfast, so I used them). Brown the sausage and then add a coarsely chopped onion, red pepper (technically, you should use green) and a couple of coarsely chopped celery sticks. Sweat down for about 5 minutes, and then add (for two) about 3/4 of a cup of rice (I used basmati). Return the chicken pieces to the pan and add around 500mL of chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and let it cook away, covered, so the rice absorbs the stock. It's ready to eat when the rice and chicken are cooked.
All pretty easy really - and, with three different vegetables, a balanced meal. This also made rather a lot - with the left overs easily doing us for lunch.

However, I'm not sure I'd describe this as particularly tasty. The rice had picked up flavour from the chicken and sausage, but the chicken itself was quite bland. In part, this is possibly because I didn't brown it enough, but in future I'd be tempted to add some garlic (if not a little chilli) and maybe top with plenty of freshly chopped parsley. Andy, having eaten jambalaya in America, was expecting the dish to be spicier and fuller flavoured.

I would make this again - but only as a quick meal for the two of us, and there would be plenty of tinkering! Guests will still get paella.

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