Well today, kiddos, we’ll be having a southern food 101 class, because today is Fat Tuesday. Every year for Fat Tuesday, I make a big pot of jambalaya, a quintessential low country dish.
When I started working in the Midwestern part of the U.S., I started up Fat Tuesday potlucks on-site, sending out invitations for a Day of Gluttony. It got fairly large the last year I was there. In most cases, I would presume that management was glad to see me go, except management was lined up with the best of them, paper plates and plastic forks in hand. That was the beauty of it, bringing everyone together, talking and laughing, eager to share moments over a plate of food, just celebrating life. It brought me sheer joy to see some of them having their first taste of jambalaya and real southern cornbread. That look of, “Oh, now I get it.”
Though I serve jambalaya on “Fat” Tuesday, it really is not that bad for you, whether or not you can stop at one serving, well that’s on you, my friend. If you get the itch to celebrate today and want a delicious dish, the following recipe is one of my most requested and is packed full of flavor.
* 1 package of 4 chicken breasts, cut into 8 pieces (each breast)
* 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning chicken
* 1 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning chicken
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 pound andouille or other spicy smoked sausage, diced
* 2 cups chopped yellow onions
* 1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
* 1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers
* 1/2 cup chopped celery
* 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
* 3/4 teaspoon cayenne
* 1 teaspoon garlic powder
* 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
* 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
* 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
* 2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
* 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
* 3 bay leaves
* 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
* 2 quarts stock
* 3 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked
* 1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)
* 1 cup chopped green onions (green and white parts)
* 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear for 5 minutes. Turn and sear on the second side for 3 minutes. Remove from the pot and drain on paper towels.
Add the sausage to the fat in the pot and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, and all of the dried seasonings. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and bay leaves and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes give off some of their juices, about 2 minutes.
Add the thyme, stock, and chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 50 minutes.
Add the rice and bring back up to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is barely tender, about 10 minutes.
If adding shrimp- Add the shrimp to the pot, return to a simmer, and cover.
Remove the pot from the heat and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Try rice, if still slightly underdone, cover and let sit another 10 minutes.
Add the green onions and parsley to the jambalaya and stir gently. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Adjust the salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Serve directly from the pot.