Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oven Baked Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

A roasted meat Cajun jambalaya with chicken and smoked sausage.
A roasted meat Cajun jambalaya with chicken and smoked sausage.

Oven Baked Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

I love this recipe for Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya - the kind that builds flavor, layer upon layer, with herbs, seasonings, and seared or roasted meats.

The primary success tool for making a proper jambalaya to me though, is that it should be cooked in a cast iron Dutch oven. All of this takes just a bit more time to pull off but it produces a nice, fluffy jambalaya, without worrying over a pot on the top of the stove.

This version of jambalaya is what is considered to be Cajun - that is, not Creole Jambalaya - as in lacking in tomatoes and shrimp.  As far as "spicy heat" goes, my seasonings here give a nice, respectable bite, but are not gonna set your mouth on fire. Some people have the misconception that "spicy" Cajun and Creole foods equal loading down dishes with a lot of red pepper, and nothing could be further from the truth.

There is a load of layered flavor in this jambalaya from the roasted meats and the combination of the other seasonings, that you won't need to mask it with a lot of red pepper.

If you like foods super spicy, use spicy andouille sausage - which has a very high heat level - and up the Cajun seasonings to your taste. There is nothing worse than trying to eat something that somebody has loaded down with cayenne or black pepper trying to "spice" it up, to point that you can't even taste the food any longer.

We like spicy down here, but we like flavor with some kick even better!

Save the hot pepper sauce for the table. If you lean milder, any nicely seasoned smoked sausage you love will work.

As far as the meats go, you can certainly pan sear the chicken and sausage, but this time of year when the temperatures are down just a bit (well, sorta anyway), I just love everything about roasting the meats in the oven. 

Any kind of chicken works with this, though I personally favor thighs for their flavor and ability to retain moisture, or at least a mixed cut up chicken. I used bone-in chicken breasts this time because that is what I had on hand, and if you are going to use only white meat, I do suggest the addition of some butter just before it hits the oven.  You'll need the added fat. I do nothing extravagant with the chicken to roast it; just a bit of oil, salt and pepper to start.

Don't use boneless, skinless chicken for this recipe, because you'll want the flavor that comes from both the bone and the fat of the skin. 

Just plain sauteed onion this time, with a mixture of herbs and basic seasonings, and some good chicken stock is where you'll be starting.

I absolutely love smoked sausage roasted off in the oven this way - it is so delicious that you will not be able to help but to pop a few pieces in your mouth as you chop them up. Toss in long grain white rice, equal to half the measure of the liquid.

Once the broth and rice comes to a boil, you'll add the chopped chicken and sausage to the pot.

Throw in some slices of cold butter, give it a good stir, cover it and bake it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. When you pull it out of the oven, grab a big fork and fluff it up a bit before serving it hot out of the pot, with just a light sprinkle of chopped parsley.

Just one little cooking note.

Y'all know that I am all about making recipes your own and so I keep my mouth politely shut {well, mostly} when it comes to other folks' methods of cooking. But I have run across a few bloggers here lately who have posted jambalaya that resembled more of a soup - liquid with rice floating in it.

While I have little doubt that it was tasty, it most assuredly is not what jambalaya should look like!

Perfect jambalaya should be fluffy and most certainly should not be soupy in any way, shape or form. Think, fluffy white rice with stuff in it - that is how it should look! Enjoy.
"Perfect jambalaya has pork and long-grain Louisiana rice." John Besh

For more of my favorite jambalaya and rice dressing recipes, pop by my Pinterest page!

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Posted by on November 17, 2009
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