This recipe for jambalaya comes from Leite's Culinaria, and I want to express right off the bat my apologies for not following the recipe to the letter. In the headnote, David Leite says flat out, "There’s nothing, not a thing, that we’d change," and all of the comments echo that sentiment. But change I did. First, I did not have (take?) the time to make my own chicken stock, so I used the stuff in the box. Second, in order to not offend the tender taste buds of my wussy family members, I omitted the jalapeños. I also used smoked turkey sausage instead of what would have been the more appropriate pork andouille. And I don't like green bell peppers, so I used two red instead of one of each. There you go.
As a gift to you, if you're following the recipe as written on the website and you don't want to make the entire cup or so of spice mix, here's what you need to yield (about) 1 tablespoon for this recipe: 1 teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon cayenne, ½ teaspoon paprika, ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder. In order to protect the afore-mentioned tender taste buds, I used only ¼ teaspoon cayenne, used ½ teaspoon black pepper instead of the mixture of black and white, and omitted the garlic powder entirely (there's already 4 real garlic cloves in there, guys!).
What can I say, it came out awesome, and everyone ate a lot of it. With tortillas. There's nothing tricky about the recipe, but there is a fair amount of prep work and sautéing, so just crank up the tunes and get cooking.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound smoked sausage, diced
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided use
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced small
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Meat from one 3- to 4-pound rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 cups long-grain rice
Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and sear until it starts to color, turning as necessary. Parts of the sausage will begin to stick to the pan. When there is a goodly sausage-y coating stuck to the pan, pour in ¼ cup of the chicken stock and cook, stirring and scraping the skillet, until it comes loose. Let this simmer gently until all of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the sausage to a plate.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the butter, and heat until it melts. Add the onion and cook until it starts to stick to the pan, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with another ¼ cup of the chicken stock and let this reduce until the skillet is dry. Continue to cook until the onion turns a nice, deep, brown color, about 5 more minutes.
At this point the onion will start to stick to the pan again. Add ½ cup of the chicken stock and simmer. When this is almost gone, add the bell peppers, scallions, celery, garlic, salt, spices, bay leaves, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, for 10 more minutes, until things start to stick to the darn skillet again. Deglaze with another ¼ cup stock and reduce again until the skillet runs dry. Add the shredded chicken and 1 cup stock and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
Transfer the mixture to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and add the sausage, rice, and the remaining 3¾ cups stock to the pot and stir well. You want the mixture to have plenty of room so the rice will cook evenly. Heat, covered, over low heat for 40 minutes.
Remove the pot from the stovetop and keep covered for 10 minutes while it rests. If the rice seems a little unevenly cooked, leave the lid on a little longer and it will even out. When the jambalaya is done, transfer it to a casserole dish and serve. (If you leave it in the pot it cooked in, the jambalaya will continue to cook and become dry.)
*You get extra points if you sing along with Lucinda Williams (or, better yet, I suppose, Hank Williams!) while making jambalaya. Son of a gun, we're gonna have big fun on the bayou....