Tue Mar 11, 2014
I've been undergoing a bit of liberation at the grill lately. First, a slow simmered pot of tomato sauce with grilled Italian meats turned into a excellent Sunday gravy. Second, taking a dry approach with racks of spares, but swapping the standard barbecue rub for Cajun seasoning, produced some incredibly different and tasty bones. Being a man of tradition, both were decidedly non-traditional takes to grilling and smoking that were outside the realm of the type of recipes I tend to tackle. Liking those results, and keeping the experimentation going, I combined the idea of a grilled sauce or stew with Cajun cooking, and out came this grilled chicken and sausage jambalaya.
We all know the grill adds a nice smokiness and distinctive woodsy char to most everything is touches, and its this flavor that I was trying to introduce into my jambalaya to make it stand out from the norm. To do this, I decided to grill as many components of the this Cajun meat and rice dish as possible.
The first thing to hit the flames were chicken thighs, which got a nice coating of Cajun seasoning before being grilled. These cooked up beautifully brown with some of that desirable charring I was looking for.
Next came the sausages, of which I had both smoky andouille and the more mild flavored linguica. Both were fully cooked already, so they could have easily just been sliced and thrown in the broth later on, but I wanted to give them a touch of the grill, so on they went until well browned and the casing developed a nice snap.
Finally a couple roma tomatoes were cooked until they were branded with the mark of the grill—yup, even some of the veggies got grilled.
Once cooled enough to handle, the sausages were sliced and the chicken pulled. After both were piled into a large bowl, I got the feeling that this jambalaya was heading down the right path.
At this point I took the dish indoors. I certainly could have kept making it over the fire, but since I was transitioning from cooking directly over the flames to in a pot, there was little benefit to the grill and I didn't want to have to deal with changing out the charcoal.
The next step was to sautee the required holy trinity of Cajun cuisine—onion, green pepper, and celery—until softened.
Following that, the grilled tomatoes were added into the mix along with tasso ham, chicken stock, rice, and seasonings. The whole thing was brought to a boil, then simmered until the rice was cooked through. Finally, the chicken and sausage were stirred as well as chopped green onions, and with that, this jambalaya was ready to go.
The final jambalaya was incredible. I'm admittedly new to Cajun and Creole cuisine, so I may be overly impressionable, but the explosion of flavor was instantly compelling with an interplay between meaty, fresh, and spicy. The large quantity of sausage and chicken made the grill well represented, giving a hint of smoke and distinctive crisp charred bits here and there. I relished in the success, which only left me with a stronger desire to grill more of these dishes that are seemingly not fit for the grill. Any good ideas of what to do next?
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
- Cook Time:
- 1 Hour 45 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 1 Hour 45 Minutes
- 8 to 10 servings
- 2 pounds chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
- 3/4 pounds mild smoked pork sausage (such as Kielbasa or smoked linguica)
- 3/4 pounds andouille
- 2 roma tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 medium stalk celery, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 pound tasso ham, diced
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
- 3/4 cup white rice
- 3 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1/2 cup finely sliced green onions
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Lightly season chicken thighs with Creole seasoning. Place chicken, sausages, and tomatoes (cut side down) on the grill. Cover and cook, turning chicken and sausage occasionally, until chicken until meat registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer when inserted into thickest part of thigh, about 20 minutes. Cook sausages until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Cook tomatoes until they have grill marks and start to blacken, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer chicken, sausage, and tomatoes to a cutting board as they are done. When cool enough to handle, pull chicken into large chunks. Halve sausages and slice into 1/2-inch chunks. Finely chop tomatoes.
- Place large stockpot or dutch oven on grill or over medium heat on a stovetop burner. Add in olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onions, pepper, and celery and cook until vegetables have softened, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in ham, garlic, salt, white pepper, black pepper, and hot sauce and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add rice and stir to thoroughly coat grains with vegetable mixture. Stir in chicken stock, bay leaf, and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until rice is fully cooked, 20-30 minutes.
- Stir in chicken and sausage and heat cook until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in green onions. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, then serve.