This is not your mama’s jambalaya. I love cajun and creole cooking. I love the depth of flavors, the spiciness, the history…it is true soul food. Such soulful cuisine has deep roots. Deep roots are attached to strong feelings. There are thousands of cajun and creole descendants that have specific “rules” for specific dishes. The way their granny made gumbo is the only way to make gumbo. Dark roux versus nut brown roux, five hours cooking time versus twelve hours cooking time – these are fighting words. I am not cajun or creole. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s pride or get the “cajun police” on my tail. I am, however, a damn fine cook who can really appreciate the history, the cooking style, the flavor profile and culinary foundation of a unique and celebrated culture. Perhaps I should have called this dish “Low Calorie, Gluten-Free, Chicken, Sausage, and Vegetable Stew with Cajun Flavors.” Whatever you want to call it, it’s quite tasty and very healthy.
Okay, this is a recipe that calls for making your own chicken sausage. Don’t be intimidated. It’s simple and easy. We’ll do it in the food processor. You can do it! If you are still intimidated after this encouragement, you can purchase some chicken sausage.
I like to cook my rice separately for soups and stews. Sometimes I feel like 1/2 a cup of rice, sometimes I feel like a whole cup of rice. Grains also have a lot of calories. I find that I usually don’t need any more than a 1/2 cup of rice (120 calories/half cup!), especially at dinner time. Keeping the rice separate, gives you more control over the calorie count. Take it easy cajun police.
Heat a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onions.
Next, add the chopped celery and peppers.
The cajun police isn’t going to like it that I used yellow and red peppers. Just be sure to use at least one green pepper.
The key to this recipe is cooking the vegetables with the spices and garlic for a long time. Make sure your pan is hot enough that you hear the vegetables sizzle when they hit the pan. You want the vegetables to release all of their liquid and cook down, stirring often, without burning.
Add the garlic, celery seed, kosher salt, black pepper, and Tony’s creole seasoning, and cook baby cook.
In the mean time, prep your chicken. Start with about 1 and 1/3 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 4 each). Trim off the excess fat with a knife or kitchen scissors.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Lightly season half of the chicken thighs (2) with Tony’s cajun seasoning.
If you don’t like Tony’s, you can use a different brand of cajun or creole seasoning. Tony’s is good stuff, but use it lightly, it’s strong.
Spray the skillet quickly with olive oil pan spray. Sear the chicken thighs on both sides.
Add the seared chicken to the pot of cooking vegetables. Set aside the skillet for cooking your chicken sausage later.
Add the tomatoes and chicken stock to the pot. Stir and bring to a simmer.
Make the chicken sausage: Add the garlic cloves to your food processor.
Pulse until chopped.
Using a knife or kitchen scissors, take the remaining half of the chicken thighs and cut into large dice. Add to the food processor.
Add the garlic and onion powder, chili powder, black pepper, and kosher salt and pulse 5-8 times until the meat is finely chopped. Stop pulsing before it becomes a paste.
Reheat the skillet over medium heat. Spray with a bit of olive oil pan spray and add your chicken sausage.
Cook, stirring often and cutting into smaller pieces as it cooks.
Add the chicken sausage to the pot. Stir and bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Using tongs, pull the cooked chicken thighs out of the stew and place on a plate. Allow to cool.
Shred the chicken thighs once they are cool enough to handle.
Add to the pot and stir.
Add the fresh thyme, chopped parsley, and lemon, bring to a simmer, and continue cooking for about 20 minutes. The stew makes about eight cups. To serve. Add half a cup of cooked brown rice to each bowl.
Top with two cups of the Jambalaya chicken stew. Stir to combine and serve.
344 calories/serving, and it’s gluten free!
CHICKEN JAMBALAYA RECIPE
1 Tblsp olive oil3 medium yellow onions, small dice
7 each celery stalks, washed and chopped into small dice
3 each bell peppers (use at least one green), small dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin, lengthwise
1/2 tsp celery seed
2 tsps Diamond Krystal kosher salt (if using Morton’s, use 1 1/2 tsps)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Tony’s creole seasoning, plus more for seasoning chicken thighs
10.5 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 each)
homemade chicken sausage (see recipe below), or 10 ounces prepared chicken sausage
1-14 ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tblsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
2 each (about 10.5 ounces) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Diamond Krystal kosher salt (if using Morton’s, use 1/2 tsp)
1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Once pan is hot, add olive oil, onion, celery, and peppers. Stir well.
3. Add garlic, celery seed, kosher salt, black pepper, and Tony’s creole seasoning. Stirring often, cook vegetables well. Cook until vegetables have released all of their liquid and almost starting to brown.
4. While the vegetables are cooking, prep the chicken. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Lightly sprinkle chicken thighs with Tony’s or other creole seasoning on all sides.
5. Quickly spray pan with olive oil pan spray and sear chicken thighs on both sides. Add chicken thighs to the pot of vegetables. Reserve skillet to cook the chicken sausage later.
6. Add tomatoes and chicken stock to pot, stir well, and bring to a simmer.
7. Make chicken sausage. Add the garlic cloves to a food processor. Pulse until garlic is chopped.
8. Using a knife or scissors, cut the chicken thighs into large chunks, and add to the food processor.
9. Add garlic and onion powder, chili powder, kosher salt and black pepper.
10. Pulse chicken and spices until chopped fine, but not a paste.
11. Heat skillet over medium heat. Quickly spray with olive oil pan spray.
12. Add chicken sausage to skillet, and cook, stirring and cutting into smaller pieces as it cooks.
13. Add sausage to jambalaya pot, bring to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.
14. Using tongs, pull cooked chicken thighs from the pot, and place on a plate to cool.
15. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, shred chicken into pieces and return to pot.
16. Add thyme, parsley, and lemon juice. Stir well. Bring to a simmer, and cook 20 minutes.
17. To serve: place 1/2 cup a rice in each bowl. Top with two cups jambalaya and stir to combine.
344 calories per serving and it’s gluten free!
Stew can be kept in the fridge for 5 days, or freezer for two months.