Saturday, January 16, 2010

Down on the Bayou with Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya

I recently took my niece and nephew to see the movie The Princess and the Frog and, I have to say, it was definitely one of the best movies I saw all year (besides Julie & Julia of course!) Not only because of the delightful characters (Ray, the Cajun firefly, is hilarious) but also because it is set in New Orleans, one of my all-time favorite food meccas. From gumbos to jambalayas and étouffées to beignets – what’s not to love?

The main character in the movie, Tiana, loves to cook and dreams of opening her own restaurant serving authentic New Orleans cuisine - sigh. She struggles to make her dream a reality and has a wild and hilarious adventure on the Bayou in the meantime. With the cold weather upon us and inspired by this delightful movie, I just had to make “Savor the Moment's" Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya (pg. 169).

According to Wikipedia, Jambalaya is a Louisiana Creole dish of Spanish and French influence. It is traditionally made in three parts, with meats and vegetables, completed by adding stock and rice. It is a close cousin to the saffron colored paella found in Spanish culture. The jambalaya I usually make is more of a Florida version made with kielbasa sausage and shrimp. It is one of my signature dishes and I've been making it for years. I was very excited to see if this recipe from "Savor the Moment" would stand up to my tried and true recipe. Oh my Gaaaaad!

The Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya recipe calls for classic Cajun ingredients including the “trinity” (onions, celery and green bell peppers) as well as andouille sausage. I actually found Aidell’s andouille sausage at Publix - score! The recipe begins by combining bay leaves, garlic powder, salt, cayenne, white pepper and black pepper in a bowl. Then, I sautéed half the onions, celery and green peppers in butter in a large saucepan. Once the veggies softened a bit, I added the seasoning mixture, the hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot) and the andouille sausage. I cooked the mixture over high heat for about 15-20 minutes until the onions were brownish. Then I added the uncooked, cut up chicken breasts and cooked for 15 more minutes. For the next step, I added the uncooked rice to the pot, stirred well and toasted the dry rice for about 10 minutes before adding the chicken stock, tomato sauce and remaining onions, celery and green pepper. Once combined, I BTB RTS (brought to boil, reduced to simmer) and simmered for about 20 minutes until the rice was cooked through. It was hard to wait that 20 minutes with those heavenly aromas permeating the kitchen!

While waiting for the dish to finish, it was time to select a wine. This dish has a fabulous, spicy kick to it which makes me think of a white wine with some sweetness to it (the sweet counters the heat) or a fruit forward, red without an outrageous alcohol content. For a white, I would recommend the 2008 Barnard Griffin Columbia Valley Riesling from Washington state. It is light, refreshing and off-dry with fruity, floral and spicy aromas and flavors. This 90 point wine was also recently included in Wine Spectator’s “Top 100 Wines of the Year” and is a fabulous value at around $12 a bottle.

If you’re in the mood for a red, I would recommend the 2007 MacMurray Ranch Central Coast Pinot Noir. This was a fabulous year for Pinot Noirs and with its ripe cherry, raspberry and floral aromas and flavors it would be a yummy pairing with the jambalaya. You’ll also enjoy it’s spicy, earthy notes along with the very reasonable price at around $20 a bottle.

I am happy to report the Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya from "Savor the Moment" was fabulous! The onions, celery and bell peppers added such wonderful texture and the smoky, richly flavored andouille sausage was just delicious. This dish definitely has a nice spicy kick to it so, if that's how you roll, go home and make it tonight. I really can't decide which I like better - my tried and true recipe or this one. In any event, a girl can never have too many fabulous recipes at her fingertips, can she? Enjoy!

3 comments:

  1. I have to see that movie now! I visited New Orleans twice and visited the New Orleans School of cookery where they taught us how to make jambalaya and I was in heaven. I love the food there. Your jambalaya looks delicious :)

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  2. The jambalaya looks magnificent - rich, hearty and smoky!

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  3. Great looking jambalaya, I have to admit, I've never tried this before. One day i hope to visit new orleans, mabye i'll get some bignets too... mmm... donuts!

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