Thursday, October 6, 2016

Spicy Chorizo Jambalaya

I've discussed my intense cravings here before, but in case you forgot, let me explain my weird appetite to you. Sometimes, my brain will get fixated on something and I have a hard time concentrating on anything else until I sort out the obsession. So, sometime in July, I got hit hard with a craving for jambalaya. It happened when I was researching new ideas for cooking Italian sausage. Pinterest, for whatever reason, showed me a big pan of jambalaya. That evening, I went home and made sausage and pepper sandwiches (yeah, not really a new way of using Italian sausage but it was still delicious and I added hot cherry peppers so it was bomb) which was satisfying, but I really wanted jambalaya.

I couldn't stop thinking about it so when we did our next week's grocery shopping, I bought a pack of chorizo (without casings) with the intention of making jambalaya. Now, I'm not keen on standing by a stove when it's summery and hot. I'd rather stand by a grill. But, on this particular day, it was raining so hard that there were flash flood warnings popping up on my phone every two minutes. Since grilling was out of the question, I took this as a prime opportunity to quell my jambalaya craving. By the way, the mini monsoon is also why this photo diary was shot in artificial light. It was so dark outside with the ominous clouds and sideways rain. I saved this post for a few months so I could share it when it was more weather appropriate; and now I'm excited to make this again now that the weather is cooler and I don't mind standing by the stove anymore.

I didn't go the classic route of jambalaya, which usually involves seafood of some kind and sometimes chicken. Instead, I went for a chorizo version and added heat with jalapeno and a custom cajun seasoning. It turned out really delicious and when both my sister and I had leftovers the next day, we reported back to say that our respective coworkers were jealous because it smelled so good. But that's not to say I wouldn't consider adding in some crawfish for the next batch.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
jambalaya
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bell pepper, diced
½ onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 jalapeno, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. chorizo
2 tablespoons cajun seasoning (see below)
1½ cups long grain rice
1 cup canned tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1 scallion, chopped
handful grape tomatoes, halved

cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
*I don't like adding salt to my seasoning mixes. I think salt should be added on its own so that you can control the amount added. That way, you're not like, "Oh, I want more cajun seasoning" and pour a bunch in and then end up with an overly salty mess.

A good place to start is the cajun seasoning. Stir together the spices and that's it; that's the cajun seasoning, done.
Chop up the "holy trinity" of cajun cooking, which is celery, onions, and bell pepper. Also chop up some garlic and a jalapeno, which are two crucial ingredients in this dish.
Grab a wide and shallow pan, pop over medium heat, and drizzle in some oil. Toss in the chopped vegetables and saute for a few minutes until the onions are soft. Drop in the chorizo and break up the meat with a wooden spoon and allow to cook through completely and brown. Then, stir in the cajun seasoning.
Add in the rice and stir to coat in the fat and the seasonings. Lightly toast the rice - this step will help to make sure that the grains remain individual grains instead of sticking together and turning into a porridge. Then, add the tomatoes and break them up and pour in the chicken stock. Give the whole thing one last stir and then pop on a lid and reduce the heat to low. Let the jambalaya cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all of the moisture and is tender and fluffy.

The wide and shallow pan is really important here because it allows the rice to cook through more evenly since the heat only has to travel a short distance to reach the rice grains at the top of the pan.
Serve as is, or garnish with some scallions and tomatoes. I like the fresh aspect and I think it makes the pot look really pretty.
Serve generous heaps of jambalaya, making sure to get some tomato and scallion in each bowl, and dig in.
I really love this one pot wonder. It's incredibly flavorful and the spices are so warm and inviting. I love the ground chorizo mixed throughout; I like it better because you get a little chorizo in each bite instead of fishing for pieces. The rice soaks up the cajun seasoning like a sponge and the bits of jalapeno add such a nice kick. I fully expect this to be a staple in our house when the the colder weather really hits.
My sister ribbed that this tasted exactly like Zatarain's... meanwhile, she's never eaten Zatarain's; good joke, sis.
Here's the recipe page:

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