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Oven Cooked Creole Jambalaya

25 Aug

(serves 12)
Jambalaya is an all-in-one rice dish specific to the American South-east. If I’m not mistaken Jambalaya means Ham-Rice.  While some consider Jambalaya a spicy version of its cousin the Spanish Paella, I tend to think of it as a heavier meatier version, as is the way with all things American, and that’s the way I make mine, with lots of smoked or cured meat. I use a special extra ingredient, minced pork sausage filling, this flavours the rice really nicely. I also grill the chicken and seafood separately first, this flavours the fresh meats really nicely.      
 

Ingredients Jambalaya

  1. Clams in Shell (600g)
  2. Prawns (16 large)
  3. Chicken Legs with Thigh (3)
  4. Smoked Pork Belly (400g)
  5. Breakfast Pork Sausages (400g)
  6. Chorizo Sausages (250g)
  7. Onion (2)
  8. Capsicum (2)
  9. Celery (2 cups, chopped)
  10. Diced Tomatoes (1 can, 400g)
  11. Raw Jasmine Rice (4 cups)
  12. Chicken Stock Cube (1)
  13. Whisky
  14. Cayenne Pepper
  15. Paprika
  16. Cumin
  17. Oregano
  18. Thyme

Preparation

  1. Soak and agitate the clams in cold water.
  2. Boil about 7 cups of water in a pot with one chicken stock cube. Cut the heads of your prawns just behind the carapace and snip off all whiskers. Place the heads into the boiling stock pot. Add 1T cayenne pepper, 1T oregano, 1T thyme, 1t salt, 1t sugar. Keep the stock on a low simmer.
  3. Shell and then devein the prawn bodies and cleave each prawn in half if they are big. Marinate in a bowl using 1T paprika, 1T cumin, a pinch of salt and a dash of oil.
  4. In a second larger bowl rub 3 chicken legs with 1T paprika and 1T cumin and 1t of salt. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes and then the add the prawn and grill for another 5 minutes. Dissolve any left over marinade and the drippings in hot stock and then pour the liquid back into the stock pot.
  5. Dice 2 cups of celery, 2 onions and 2 capsicum (i.e. bell pepper).
  6. Debone the cooled grilled chicken and cut it into large chunks. The chicken bones can go into the stock pot.4 Bowls of Pork
  7. Dice the smoked pork belly. Cut the lard portions into smaller pieces (10 o’clock) and the meat portions into larger cubes (8 o’clock). Slice the Chorizo into slices (4 o’clock). Remove the skin of the pork sausages (2 o’clock) and mix the filling with 1/4 cup of water to loosen it.
  8. Spoon 4T of vegetable oil into a large frying pan. Add the pork belly and Chorizo and fry on medium heat till their lard renders. Next, add the sausage filling as well and stir fry until the minced pork browns.
  9. Remove the meat. Reserve 4T of the flavoured oil leaving the rest in the pan. Stir fry the celery and onion in the same pan until they are limp. Then add 4 cups of rinsed jasmine rice and stir fry for a further minute.
  10. Transfer the rice into a Dutch oven (i.e. a baking vessel with a cover). Open the can of diced tomatoes, pour the liquid into the stock pot and the tomato pieces over the rice.
  11. Preheat your oven to 200oC (390oF).  Throw the clams into the stock pot together with 1/4 cup of whisky and bring it to a boil for a minute .
  12. Ladle boiling stock over the rice until the liquid is level with the rice. Follow this with all the cooked meat and the diced capsicum. Mix well. Add the prawn heads and clams (only those that opened) from the stock pot.
  13. Place the Dutch oven in the oven with its cover on. Reduce to 150oC (300oF) when you can smell the jambalaya cooking. After 45 minutes in the oven, check if the rice (deep under the surface) is both cooked and dry. When the rice is perfect, allow it to rest inside the oven with the cover off.
  14. In the meanwhile discard the chicken bones from the remaining stock and add the reserved pork oil to the pot. Boil this down till it begins to thicken into a sauce.
  15. Taste the rice and salt the sauce as necessary (i.e. this is your last chance to adjust the taste of the jambalaya). Spoon the sauce over your jambalaya and serve.

NotesJambalaya in pot

  • This is a recipe for a very large amount of food. You can halve the portions if you don’t have that many people. There shouldn’t be any scaling issues.
  • Between two baking containers of the same volume, always use the one that is flatter. The Jambalaya will cook more evenly. A Jambalaya more than four inches deep will tend to have wetter rice at the bottom. An alternative is to use two containers. Use foil if your flatter containers don’t have covers.
  • Why not just cook the jambalaya on the stove? Because there is a tendency for the bottom of the pot to burn. You can try that after you have perfected the oven method.
  • Why do we have to grill the chicken and prawns first? This is a great way to sear some flavour into them so they don’t taste like boiled meat. The high heat will also remove any freezer taste.
  • Add more cayenne pepper if you like your jambalaya spicy.
  • I used Chorizo sausage as Andouille it is not easily found in many parts of the world. If you can’t find smoked pork belly, use a brined ham hock, salted pork neck or cubed pancetta (but not sliced bacon).  I also left out the customary calamari as squid gets very hard when it is over cooked.
  • Use capsicums of 2 different colours for a better visual impact.
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe, Seafood

 

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