Friday, October 30, 2009

A Touch More Heat

Well, as inspired by yesterday's post, I made some jambalaya last night. This would be the... 3rd time I've made it. First inspired by the terrible concoction I received at the once great Southern Accent (seriously, it was as if they'd just slopped some pre-made rice, pasta sauce, and meats together instead of slow-cooking them), I was further angered when I realized how simple it was.

And it had some heat last night. Just the right amount - you could feel it, but it didn't cause pain and suffering.

The beauty of jambalaya is that it's pretty versatile and forgiving. My version, with a couple additions you won't usually find (namely mushrooms and zucchini).

The whole thing gets made in one pot, so make sure you use one big enough for your purposes. Also, note that measurements are all approximate.

1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
3 or 4 stalks of celery, chopped
1/3 of a zucchini (store bought size), sliced and quartered
3 or 4 white mushrooms, cubed
3 cloves garlic - chopped
1/2 lb chicken breast (about 1 good-sized boneless, skinless half-breast), cubed
1/2 lb Louisiana/andouille/spicy sausage, sliced and halved
1/2 lb uncooked, peeled shrimp (the good kind, not those stupid rings), cut in halves or thirds
Salt, pepper, and spices to taste
1 large can tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
4 cups poultry stock
2 cups uncooked long grain white rice

- Heat oil and butter in the pot over medium heat
- Add celery, pepper, and onion, and some salt
- Cook until softened
- Add chicken and sausage, cook until chicken is white
- Add zucchini and mushrooms, cook for a few minutes until starting to soften
- Add garlic and cook until you can smell the garlic (a couple minutes tops)
- Add spices (I used [deep breath] - kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, ghost pepper salt, habanero salt, roast garlic salt, habanero powder, sweet smoked paprika, marash pepper, mexican chili powder, chipotle chili powder, and ancho chili powder)
- Add canned tomatoes, cook until bubbling
- Add 1/2 stock and bring to boil
- Add rice and stir to distribute it
- Reduce heat to med-low and cover, stirring occasionally
- At first, check and stir regularly, to avoid sticking. If rice is sticking to bottom, pull back the jambalaya so you can see bottom and drizzle more oil in, repeat in a few spots and stir, scraping the bottom as you go. If you're using a pot that's prone to scratching, I suggest a wooden or plastic utensil
- As the liquid absorbs in the rice, check the rice for texture. Add more stock as needed, stirring each time and recovering for a few minutes.
- Taste the rice (try to avoid the other stuff) to gauge if you like the level of tomato. If not, add tomato paste to taste. I used the whole can cuz I likes me my tomato flavour.
- Once the rice is the texture you like, reduce heat to low and add the raw shrimp. Stir the shrimp in and cover for 5 minutes.
- Check the jambalaya, if the shrimp is cooked, it's good to go.

Total time after everything is prepped is about an hour of cooking. This is largely due to the rice needing time to absorb the liquid. I like adding the liquid in stages and stirring until it's absorbed - much like risotto. Alternately, you can just dump all the liquid in and let it absorb like when you cook rice regularly.

Regardless of how you do it, you should reduce the amount of stirring your doing as you progress, unless you want the rice to me more of a goopy mush that is.

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