This recipe was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004.|
Jambalaya revisited INGREDIENTS: (Serves four as a main dish or two with leftovers)
Six to eight chicken thighs
1. I like to keep things simple - and reduce fat - by poaching the chicken thighs (or other parts of your preference) without browning them first, gently cooking the chicken meat to tenderness while creating the broth that you'll use in the dish. Rinse the thighs and put them in a saucepan. Cover with the water, add half of the onion (no need to peel it), two of the garlic cloves, 1 stalk of the celery, the carrot, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the black peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then skim off any scum that rises to the top; reduce heat to a very gentle simmer and leave to cook uncovered for a half-hour while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. While the chicken is simmering, make a seasoning mix by blending the cayenne, oregano, thyme, cumin, dry mustard, black pepper, the bay leaf and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.
3. Chop the other half of the onion, the two remaining celery stalks and the green pepper; mince the remaining clove of garlic. Cook them in a large, heavy black-iron skillet or dutch oven with the olive oil until they're soft and starting to brown. Stir in the seasoning mix. Peel, seed and chop the tomato (or open the can), and add to the vegetables in the sautee pan. Leave on a gentle simmer while you attend to the chicken ...
4. Remove the simmering chicken from the heat and pour the broth into a large measuring cup through a large strainer lined with paper towels. If you're scrupulous about fat, you can skim most of it off as it rises to the top. Discard the flavoring ingredients (you can eat the vegetables, if you like, as a reward for the chef). Let the thighs cool a little, then tear the chicken meat into large bite-size shreds, discarding the skin, bones and gristly bits.
5. Add the chicken shreds to the simmering vegetables. Add the rice, then stir in 2 1/2 cups of the chicken broth, raising heat until it comes to a boil. Return heat to very low and allow to simmer, covered tightly, for about 15 minutes. Toward the end of that time, check periodically to make sure the rice isn't sticking to the bottom of the skillet, and add a little more broth if needed. When the rice is almost done, stir in the shrimp and continue cooking just until the rice is done and the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Check seasonings, adding a little more salt, pepper and cayenne if necessary; pass additional Louisiana hot sauce at the table.
MATCHING WINE: I'm not really crazy about wine with fiery fare, and if you travel in Cajun country, you'll most often find the food of the region served with ice-cold beer or sweet iced tea. If you insist on wine, I recommend slightly sweet, fruity options, from Riesling to gentler-styled Merlots, or modest bubblies like Spanish cava or the Italian Prosecco.