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Jambalaya Pasta; or, Everything is Awesome with Sausage

April 2, 2008

Jambalaya Pasta

When I first started getting into the cooking, I felt a bit of a fondness for Rachel Ray. Her recipes were always easy and creative, and I had a crush on her yellow and green 30-Minute Meals kitchen. But after awhile her overwhelming enthusiasm for pretty much everything started to grate on me. And as I started learning more about food and cooking techniques, I noticed that she occasionally does things to food that aren’t in its best interests. And THEN all of her pre-cut and packaged food started to REALLY grate on me and I haven’t been able to watch since.

But Sunday night, as I perused various cooking websites trying to plan my meals for the week before hitting the market, I came across a recipe that sounded intriguing: a cross between jambalaya and pasta. Yes, it was a Rachel Ray recipe, and I’m sorry but I can’t bring myself to call it what she calls it: Jambasta. No, I will not call anything in my kitchen Jambasta. I will, however, make this in my kitchen again, because it is pretty darn good.

That is not to say I wouldn’t change anything. Come now, people, you know I’m never satisfied. The sauce turned out a little more tomato-y than I expected, and kind of thin, so in future I would probably reduce the amount of chicken stock a bit, and perhaps used diced instead of crushed tomatoes. And I did use a green instead of a red pepper because red peppers are expensive, yo, and I was already spending $4 on one for my spinach and mushroom bread pudding (yes, you read that correctly, I did say spinach and mushroom bread pudding and I’m making it tonight so check back soon!). The chicken didn’t really add much to the dish, so I’d perhaps consider leaving it out altogether, or substituting something else, like, um more sausage.

But despite all of that, and despite a pretty heinous knife accident that occurred when my thumb decided to join the green peppers I was chopping (don’t worry, Mom, I am intact and didn’t lose too much blood), the jambalaya pasta came out a total winner and I look forward to making it again. And I got to eat it without having to listen to a single “delish!” If I’d bought those pre-cut vegetables, though, I would have avoided injury, so maybe there’s something to that, after all.

Jambalaya Pasta, again

Jambalaya Pasta

  • 1/2 box of penne pasta (I actually used mezze rigatoni because the penne was up on a really high shelf at the market and I am short. Stupid tall shelvers, keeping me from my penne. Regardless, any pasta with ridges would be fine.)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. butter
  • 2 links andouille sausage, cut into small pieces (I quartered each link lengthwise and then sliced)
  • a bit less than 1/4 c. chopped red onion
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 poblano pepper, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1 c. beer
  • a bit less than 1 c. chicken stock (I ended up using 1 1/4 cups, so you might actually be just fine with 1 cup as the original recipe recommends)
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c. diced tomatoes (I used about 1 3/4 cups, or one 14-ounce can, of crushed, but in future I’d used the diced instead)
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • a few splashes of hot sauce
  • 2 small chicken breasts (about 1/2 a pound), cubed
  • 1/2 lb. large shrimp, deveined
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • chopped cilantro (or scallions, or parsley)

Put a big pot of water on to boil for the pasta, and heat the olive oil and the butter in a large skillet. When the butter is melted and everything’s all hot, add the andouille and saute for about four or five minutes, to render out the fat. Remove the sausage bits to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Add the onion, celery, and peppers to the skillet, and saute all together until everything is soft and very slightly browned.

Quickly whisk in two tablespoons of flour until the vegetables are covered in a kind of oily paste (sounds appetizing, I know). Then deglaze the pan with the beer, continually whisking to get up all the browned and flour paste bits. Let the beer come to a boil and reduce until it’s almost gone.

Now stir in the chicken stock, the tomatoes, the hot sauce, and a bit of thyme. Next time, I might consider stirring in the stock first and letting that reduce a little, too, just to thicken things up a bit. After you stirred the tomatoes and stock together well, add the chicken and the shrimp. Stir them into the sauce to coat, and let it all cook, lightly bubbling, until the chicken is cooked through. You might want to cover the pan for a few minutes if the chicken isn’t fully submerged.

Jambalaya Pasta

Once the chicken is cooked through, lower the heat and stir in the cream. At this point the pasta should be done, too, so drain it and mix it into the sauce. Serve it up, and top each dish with a small handful of the cooked andouille and some cilantro or scallions or what have you.

The jambalaya flavor came out a little more pronouncedly the next day, so this is definitely a great meal to make extra of and save for leftovers (which I never really have to worry about, seeing as I’m almost always cooking for one). I have to say, though, the chicken didn’t live up to its part here. It might help to season it a little on its own? Or, you know, forget the chicken and add more sausage, or pork, and…alligator meat? Can I get some of that shipped up from Louisiana? Whatever you decide on the meat front, do not, I repeat do not leave out the andouille sausage. It definitely elevates this from boring weeknight pasta to recurring member of the kitchen cast. But then, it’s hard to dislike anything with andouille sausage in it.

(Dear darling Kim, I promise the tofu scramble will be coming up soon. But even better? That bread pudding I mentioned earlier is also vegetarian. Sweet!)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2008 11:34 am

    I’m still laughing about your Rachael Ray comments. I couldn’t agree more, it’s really a love/hate relationship (as far as my relationships can go with Food Network stars). I work for MarxFoods.com, an online specialty food store, and guess what? We have alligator! And lots of other hard-to-find ingredients, plus we’re willing to do our best to source any special requests. Looking forward to your bread pudding recipe!

  2. kim e. permalink
    April 3, 2008 5:48 pm

    I think that everyone has that same feeling at RR, she’s great at the beginning but as you get to know her, the annoying factor kicks in. I can’t wait for the tofu scramble and the bread pudding…Yum yum yum!!!

  3. Adrienne permalink
    April 7, 2008 3:26 pm

    I got a Rachel Ray knife, and the third time I used it I cut the tip of my thumb off and had to go to the emergency room. Rachel Ray, literally painfully annoying! (I do like her magazine, though)

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  1. Rachael Ray Roundup | Healthy Recipe Collections, Party Ideas, Quick & Easy Recipes

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