Quick Jambalaya

You know that “one-pot meal” bandwagon?  Yeah, I’m still on it.

It functions as a sort of flip side to all those multi-course extravaganzas the holiday season brings.  So easy, with minimal clean-up, and a whole lotta taste.  Casual, delicious and comfortable, when a quiet evening in is something you are really looking forward to.

This quick jambalaya fits the bill nicely.  There are likely as many “traditional” recipes for jambalaya as there are cooks, but it nearly always resembles a thicker rice stew, as opposed to a soup. This is a spicy version, for a little less heat, just omit the cayenne pepper.  Use a good quality andouille – I’ve had great results with Aidells Cajun Style Andouille.

The most unique thing about this jambalaya is the cherry tomatoes – they really add a lovely flavor that other types of canned tomatoes don’t even come close to replicating. Taste has the very best canned cherry tomatoes I’ve ever sampled, and I use them whenever I can get them.  Until I went looking for them, I had no idea that canned cherry tomatoes were so hard to find – I’d just assumed they would be as readily available at my local market as other canned tomato products.  If you can’t locate them, fresh cherry tomatoes make a good substitute – just dip them in a pot of lightly salted boiling water for about 90 seconds to soften the skins.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the pot and place them in a bowl.  Allow them to cool, then crush them lightly with a pestle or the back of a spoon.  Set them aside at room temperature until the recipe calls for them to be added.

One pot + one hour = dinner.  Dining while in your pajamas is, of course, optional.

Quick Jambalaya
Makes four servings.  Adapted from Martha Stewart, here.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into one-inch pieces
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4- inch rounds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water
2 cups chicken broth or stock
14 ounces crushed cherry tomatoes with juice
1 cup long-grain rice

In a large heavy stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper, place in pot and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown (about 10 to 12 minutes).  Add vegetables and sausage and cook an additional 8-10 minutes.   Stir in garlic, cook 1-2 minutes. Add Old Bay seasoning and cayenne pepper and stir through to combine.  Mix in stock, tomatoes and water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Add rice, stir through to combine, cover and simmer on low heat until rice is cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for five minutes before serving.

Note:  Jambalaya can be made up to two days in advance.  Reheat, covered, on medium-low temperature.  If jambalaya has become too thick, thin with a tablespoon or two of stock or water while reheating.