|chicken and chorizo jambalaya|
So how about this - in 2013 I will try to delight with delicious suppers and fabulous lunches, convincing everyone of my magical kitchen powers. That sounds more like a real new year's resolution and hopefully I am getting in-touch with my inner-kitchen witch as much as my inner-child.
While I am not still agonising over Christmas leftovers, I still have a Sunday chicken roast to worry about as well as the nub end of a ring of chorizo. What better way to use them up with some magical Cajun spices, a good chicken stock, colourful vegetables and a load of rice. The answer of course is Jambalaya, which originates from the southern states of America and it is the perfect way to use up whatever you have leftover in your fridge - whether it is leftover vegetables, chicken, ham or seafood.
Apparently there are two different types of jambalaya - the Creole version which contains tomatoes, and the Cajun version which doesn't, but which relies on the flavours of the meat and seafood to flavour the rice.
I can't say whether this version is particularly authentic of either method, but I can say it is gorgeous and puts a real zing into boring leftovers.
A rule of thumb is to serve about 75 millilitres of rice per person - yes you read that right. Millilitres. The secret to good rice is to measure by volume rather than weight, so measure out both rice and water using a cup or measuring jug. I usually cook rice in the proportion of one part rice to one part water - 1:1 or 1:1¼, but this recipe uses a ratio of 1 part rice to 2 parts chicken stock. Half the stock is used to cook the rice, but the other half is used to infuse the meat and vegetables with extra layers of flavour.
Serves 4 - 6
Skill level: Easy
2-3 tbsp olive oil
a knob of butter
600ml good quality chicken stock
230g Spanish chorizo sausage, chopped
2 x English onions, finely chopped
2 x celery sticks, sliced
2-3 x garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 x red pepper, de-seeded and diced
1 x green pepper, de-seeded and diced
4 x spring onions, thinly sliced
1 x red chilli, finely chopped
2 x bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
450g cooked chicken breasts (or equivalent on-the-bone pieces or leftover roast chicken),
12 x large peeled raw prawns (optional)
300ml long grain rice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, finely chopped (to serve)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Cajun spice mix (recipe below)
2 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1½ tsp barbecue seasoning powder (optional)
- To make the Cajun spice mix, combine all of the spices in a small bowl. Store in a cool, dark place in a tightly sealed container for up to several months.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chorizo and fry until coloured; turning every so often.
- Add 75 millilitres of chicken stock to the pan and cook until the liquid has evaporated – stir often and make sure that any bits of chorizo that have stuck to the bottom of the pan are scraped up. Transfer the chorizo to a plate, making sure that as much of the oil remains in the pan.
- Heat 1 more tablespoon of oil the pan and a knob of butter. Add the chopped onions and gently fry for 10 minutes until beginning to soften.
- Turn up the heat and fry for a further 2 to3 minutes so that the onions begin to brown. Add 75 millilitres of chicken stock to the pan and cook until the liquid has evaporated – stir often and make sure that none of the onion has stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the chopped peppers, spring onions, chilli, celery, garlic, bay leaves, oregano and Cajun spice mix. Gently fry for 8 to 10 minutes until the peppers are beginning to soften. Add 75 millilitres of stock and the tomato paste and stir well. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- At this point check the seasoning and add a little salt if necessary, before adding the cooked chicken breasts, raw prawns and the cooked chorizo and stir to ensure thoroughly coated in the sticky spiced vegetables.
- Add the rice and stir to ensure that all the grains of rice are well coated with the sticky spice, meat and vegetable mixture.
- Add the remaining stock (there should be at least 300 millilitres of stock left – if not make up the amount with more stock or water) and bring to the boil. When boiling, stir once. Put a lid on the frying pan and reduce the heat to the very lowest level. Simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
- Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
- A rule of thumb is to serve about 75 millilitres of rice per person - yes you read that right. Millilitres. The secret to good rice is to measure by volume rather than weight, so measure out both rice and water using a cup or measuring jug. I usually cook rice in the proportion of one part rice to one part water - 1:1 or 1:1¼,