The next evening I got to work and prepared my dish to take to the potluck. I didn't know any better to taste it along the way to be sure it was edible before serving. I proudly stuck in my serving spoon and placed it on the table among all the other wonderful looking dishes. There was buzz about someone having made Jambalaya and I was proud. That is, until I tasted it myself. I almost gagged on MY OWN FOOD!! It was dry, tasteless and the rice was still crunchy in the middle. Mortified, I looked around the room and saw no one eating what they had served themselves. I watched plate after plate hit the trash with my dish still on their plates. I couldn't blame them, it was T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E!!!
To top that off, there may or may not have been a boy in that crowd that I wanted to impress. Talk about a crash and burn.
Since then, I've learned a lot. I know now that my choosing to double the recipe and stick it all in a Crockpot was a very bad idea. Not browning my meats, not having enough water, not layering the flavors during the cooking process, etc all contributed to this disaster.
This past holiday, I got a 7qt Dutch Oven from my husband. I've been wanting one for a long time. I use it at least 3 times a week and wonder how I did anything before I had it (I say that about my KitchenAid too!). One of the gifts I gave my husband for the same holiday was Emeril Lagasse's newest book "Sizzling Skillets & Other One-Pot Wonders" and it's been wonderful. On page 114 you'll find his Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya recipe. I decided it was time to attack this feared dish once and for all! I have to admit, I'm sure I was more willing to cook this since it was just for the two of us. I may have not attempted it for a crowd.
It came out GREAT! We enjoyed every bite!!
His recipe makes enough for 8 servings. Since it was just the hubby and I eating it, I cut the recipe in half and it was the perfect amount. Here's my version of Emeril's recipe and some tips:
1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 tbs canola oil
3/4 lb smoked andouille sausage, diced
1 Lg yellow onion
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, finely chopped, green and white parts reserved separately
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs tomato paste
1/2 of a 4oz can of diced green chiles, with juice
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed between your fingers
1 Sm. Bay Leaf (a Larger one if you're doubling this recipe)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce (or more to taste)
3/4 tsp Emeril's Original Essence or Creole Seasoning (see this recipe here)
2 C. chicken stock
1/2 of a 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 1/2 C. long-grain white rice
1/4 C. chopped fresh parsley leaves
1) Season the chicken on both sides with half the salt and pepper above. Heat the oil in the dutch oven over high heat. Add the seasoned chicken and cook (in batches) until well browned on either side - approx 4 min on each side. Transfer the browned chicken to a platter and set aside.
2) Add the andouille sausage to the dutch over and reduce the heat to medium-high. Stir until the sausage is browned, 4-5 min. Transfer the sausage to the same platter as the chicken. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, white part of the green onions, garlic, & tomato paste to the dutch oven and reduce the heat to medium. Saute until the beggies are tender. Stir in green chiles, thyme, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, hot sauce and Essence. (My tip here: While the veggies are cooking, chop up the browned chicken into bite size pieces and leave on platter for next step)
3) Return the chicken and sausage to the pan. Stir in the chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a brisk simmer. Cover the dutch oven and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
4) Increase the heat to high and add the rice, chopped green parts of the green onion and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir well and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer again until the rice is cooked and has absorbed all the liquid. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the parsley and let stand for 15 minutes before serving. (Emeril's tip: Be sure to use the correct rice: long-grain white. This will ensure that your rice-to-liquid ration right)
ENJOY - the flavor is amazing. I served it with this imitation recipe of Red Lobster's biscuits, and white wine!
Next time, I think I'll substitute some of the chicken and add in shrimp. While this dish was brag-worthy we did still miss the shrimp.