© David Loftus
chicken, sausage & shrimp jambalaya
Jambalaya is a French word that means “jumbled” or “mixed up,” and I have no doubt that the philosophy and heart of this recipe come from a similar place to paella, kedgeree, and risotto.
Originally, any Louisiana “critter” unlucky enough to get caught would have gone into this: rabbit, duck, squirrel, frog, alligator. . . you name it! And similarly, you can adapt it to whatever your local butcher or fishmonger happens to have. Go cheaper by using things like frozen shrimp and chicken livers, or more expensive by including lobster or crab. I used an incredible local smoked sausage called andouille, but fresh chorizo or any other smoked sausage would work just as well.
This dish makes me happy every time I eat it. And if more people than expected turn up for dinner just add a bit of extra rice.
Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. Pour a couple of lugs of oil into a large Dutch oven and brown the chicken pieces and sliced sausage over a medium heat. After 5 minutes, once the meat is nicely browned on all sides, add your onion, bell peppers, and celery as well as your bay, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir, then fry on a medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring every now and again. It’s important to control the heat of the pan: you don’t want it to be so slow nothing’s happening, or so fast that things are catching and burning. You want a steady, solid heat.
Once the veggies have softened, add your garlic and chiles, stir around for a minute, then stir in the canned tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring everything to a boil, then turn the heat down, pop the lid on the pan, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. When you can pull the meat from the bone and shred it easily, the chicken’s ready. Feel free to remove the chicken bones at this point if you like, then add your rice. Give it all a good stir, then put the lid on. Give it a stir every few minutes, scraping the goodness from the bottom of the pan as you go. Let it cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the rice is perfectly cooked. Stir in the shrimp, and if it needs it, add enough water to make it a kind of oatmeal consistency. Pop the lid back on and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes while you chop your parsley. Stir the parsley through and serve on a lovely big platter. I absolutely love this with a lemony green salad.
• 4 chicken thighs, skin on, preferably free-range or organic
• 4 chicken drumsticks, skin on, preferably free-range or organic
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• cayenne pepper
• olive oil
• ¾ lb smoked sausage, such as andouille or fresh chorizo, skin removed, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
• 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
• 1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
• 4 celery stalks, trimmed and roughly chopped
• 4 fresh bay leaves
• 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
• 1–2 fresh red chiles, seeded and minced
• 1 x 14-oz can diced tomatoes
• 1½ quarts chicken broth, preferably organic
• 3½ cups long-grain rice
• 16–20 large raw shrimps, shell-off and cleaned
• a handful of fresh curly parsley