Recently reading Jacques Pepin’s The Apprentice, a memoir about his vast career in cooking, I’ve been re-inspired to start taking on cooking challenges myself. Granted, I don’t have the skills from working in dozens of commercial kitchens or a mind filled with recipes for the perfect mother sauce or know how to cook lamb for Charles de Gaulle (not rare as it turns out), but hey, you have to start somewhere. And that’s why this blog exists – to expand our culinary palates and pick up some skills along the way. That said, not every recipe needs to meet Plaza Athenee standards – and I’m sure exactly none of mine do. I’m comfortable admitting that.
What matters is that it tastes good – ultimately the only thing that will save a dish. I first tried this jambalaya at our New Years party – on the fly as it were, since we were running behind on everything that night – and it was a hit. Despite having plenty of other snacks, desserts and drinks, this flavorful one-pot dish (a provincial mix of French and Spanish influences) was perfect for six servings and not demanding in fussiness or presentation. It’s also ideal for a filling weekday meal with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day (or two).
Since we’re talking about chicken, I recently read this article about how chicken will be the up-and-coming food of 2015. (It seems that we have started 2015 right!) Indeed it has been too long that chicken is relegated as a tasteless conveyance for other flavors, mostly due to the bland Cornish Cross breed that we favor here in the US. Jacques Pepin, hailing from the Bresse region of France where some of the most flavorful chickens are bred, describes in his memoir the difference between many American and more flavorful European ingredients. This is but one small indication that we can do better in sourcing our food. That will be one of my resolutions for the new year. Readers, how do your food-related resolutions stack up?
- 2 chicken breasts, chopped
- 2 onions, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 andouille chicken sausages, sliced
- 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 28 oz can peeled whole (plum) tomatoes, drained
- 2 cups chicken stock (or 1 1/2 cups if you use juicy tomatoes like I did)
- 1 cup long grain rice
- Coat the bottom of a (cast iron) pot with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add chicken, roughly chopped, and cook through, about 5 mins. Stir in the onion and cook for 3-5 mins until soft. Add the garlic, peppers, sausage, and Cajun seasoning and stir. Add in whole peeled tomatoes (without their liquid) and break apart roughly with a spoon. Cook for another 5 min before adding chicken stock. Bring the contents to a simmer (by covering for about 5-10 min) then stir in rice. Uncover and simmer for about 25 mins, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until the rice is tender. Serve and enjoy!
- Why buy Cajun seasoning when you can make your own? It's easy! Here's one recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cajun-spice-mix-2/