Saturday, 7 July 2007

Red Jambalaya

I've only made Jambalaya a couple of times before. The first time, it was a disaster due to the fact that I didn't have a big enough pot to make it in, didn't have any nice Chorizo and ended up burning it because I couldn't stir properly without it going everywhere. The next time, it came out much better, although I didn't have a charged camera to document it properly. This time, I made every effort to get everything together, although, I didn't get it ready in time to get any decent daylight to get a good shot with my camera.

The original inspiration for my recipe was from Chuck's Jambalaya on the Gumpo Pages website. However, due to not being able to get all the correct ingredients, and not making my own stocks most of the time, I looked around at other variations, including Charita Jones's version (after all, her Jambalaya seems fairly popular, although not a Red Jambalaya like Chuck's), then adapted things a little during the cooking process. I'm going to try one without tomato one day, but there is something about the rich, red sauce during the cooking process which attracts me to Chuck's version.

The traditional recipe calls for Andouille (not easily available in the UK) or Chaurice (which seems to be close to Chorizo) and looking around at recipes on the Internet, it seems that all the recipes written by people based in the UK tend to use Chorizo instead. I'm a big fan of Chorizo, cooked or uncooked, and I definitely find that it's great in Jambalaya. My friends, Anna and Jose, bought me some great stuff from Spain, so I used some of that along with some stuff I bought here. I wanted to save the stuff from them until I make Fabada with the nice Morcilla they also bought me.

Recipe for Red Jambalaya (serves 6-8)

  • 600g Chicken breast, cubed
  • 600g Chorizo (2-3 rings), skinned and sliced
  • 2 medium Onions, chopped
  • 4 sticks of Celery, chopped
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Chilli Pepper, chopped
  • 6-8 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small cans of Tomato Puree
  • 1 can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 3 mugs of Basmati Rice
  • 2 pints Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup Peas
  • Half cup of Baby Carrots
  • 3 teaspoons Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

First, season the chicken. In my case, I use a bit of Lawry's Seasoned Salt, but a combination of Salt, Pepper and a little Cayenne Pepper will probably do just as well. Then brown the Chicken slightly in the Olive Oil in a large, heavy pan. Remove the Chicken from the Pan and set aside. Next, do the same with the Chorizo slices, although without additional seasoning, remove from the pan and pour away the excess fat.

There should now just be a thin layer of oil on the bottom of the pan with which to saute the Onion, Garlic, Celery and Peppers until transparent. The moisture from the vegetables should help deglaze the pan of dark matter from the Chorizo. Then, add the tomato puree and cook so until it starts to darken to a mahogany sort of colour.

At this point, add a little of the stock to the sauce to help deglaze the pan again, then add the additional herbs and spices and Chopped Tomatoes. Cook for about another 10-15 minutes and check the flavour so that if you need to add more spices, you can do it before the rice goes in, as it's better to get balance right beforehand so that the rice can soak up all the flavours. Add the Chicken and Chorizo back to the sauce.

Now, add the rice and ensure that it is thoroughly mixed, add the stock, mix and bring to the boil, then put the lid on the pan and put in a 180 degree Celsius oven for about 40-60 minutes until the rice as absorbed all the liquid and is well cooked. You should stir it a few times during cooking, and about halfway through, you can add the peas and carrots and any cooked fish.

I prefer finishing it in the oven as I find it cooks better and doesn't get stuck to the bottom, but you can do it all on the stove by lowering the heat to a simmer after it has started boiling with the stock and rice added, and stirring occasionally.

Serve with a salad and bread.

With this one, I wanted to add some crayfish too, but I didn't get the time to go up to Wing Yip to buy some. Instead, I added a little selection of Crayfish, Prawns and Mussels (should've bought double really) halfway through the rice cooking phase. The problem was that compared to the quantity of food, they were barely noticeable. Another time, I'll have to get some crayfish in their shells so that I can use the shells to improve the stock.

This recipe fed 5 people well (one of whom had about 4 or 5 helpings) and still with leftovers for a good 3 helpings. It was loads, but tasted so good, it didn't seem to matter. Jambalaya can be made with lots of different types of meat. It's certain not Paella, but it is a great, spicy, rice dish, and the fact that it's made all in the same pot makes it easy when you have limited cooking space.

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