It’s something of a running joke in our family that whenever I ask Ed what he wants for dinner, he responds vaguely, “A rice dish.” I find this response to be so open-ended as to be useless. It took me a remarkably long time to figure out that what he meant was a cajun rice dish—and that wasn’t particularly useful either, because I really don’t care for gumbo. I’m sure there are some exquisite gumbos out there, but I haven’t had them, and the ones I have tasted do not inspire me to explore further. However, I recently heard jambalaya described as a cajun paella. Now we’re talking! An excuse to use my paella pan!
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
For the jambalaya:
12 chicken wing drummettes
100 grams (3.5 ounces) bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/3 cups Arborio rice (risotto)
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups chopped canned tomatoes, with juice
150 grams (5 ounces) ham, chopped
125 (4 ounces) cooked spicy sausage, chopped
3 cups chicken stock, heated to a simmer
Combine all the spices in the spice mix and rub on the chicken drummettes. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Refrigerate the chicken if you need to marinate it longer.)
Heat a 13-inch paella pan (or similar) and add the bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the fat is released and the bacon is crisp, being careful not to burn the grease. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and add the chicken. Brown well on all sides; remove to a plate.
Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and bay leaf to the pan, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, sauté very briefly so as not to burn the garlic, then add add the wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that are still in the pan (the pan will have partially deglazed with the onions). Add the rice and cook, stirring, for a minute or so, until the rice begins to look translucent around the edges. Add the bacon to the rice mixture, along with the ham, sausage, and chopped tomatoes. Stir to mix well, then nestle the chicken pieces into the bed of rice. Carefully add all the stock. (In my paella pan, this quantity of rice and stock comes right up to the very edge of the pan.) Cook without stirring for about 20 minutes, until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is fully cooked.
Note: to avoid burning, I place a flat stove-top toaster under the paella pan, so the pan is not directly on the heat.
Tags: cajun rice, jambalaya, paella, paella pan, risotto
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