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Jambalaya: a party-pleaser

The Baltimore Sun

Chicken-and-Sausage Jambalaya is a party dish you can make ahead. Mardi Gras may have come and gone, but that's no reason to give up the joys of jambalaya.

Perfect for a party any time of year, the traditional Cajun-creole rice casserole is studded with tomatoes, green pepper, celery, onions and bite-size pieces of meat, poultry or seafood.

Although rice is the key ingredient, jambalaya's melodic name may derive from the Spanish word for ham, jamon, or the French word, jambon.

But there are literally as many recipes for the dish as there are cooks, and modern versions aren't shy about substituting leaner meats, including chicken and turkey sausage.

In addition to choosing leaner meats, this Chicken-and-Sausage Jambalaya adds brown rice to the mix. A whole grain, brown rice retains its high-fiber bran coating.

Shopping tip: Parboiling rice gelatinizes the starch to maintain firmer separate grains when slow-cooked in a casserole.

Cooking tip: The recipe calls for sauteing half the vegetables, then adding the rest uncooked. The result is a variety of textures in the finished dish.

Make-ahead tip: Prepare cooked chicken and sausage as directed. Saute half the vegetables as directed. Combine cooked meat, cooked vegetables and uncooked vegetables (but not tomatoes) in a zip-top bag.

In a second bag, combine uncooked rice and seasoning. Freeze both bags. When ready to prepare, combine both bags with tomatoes and liquids and bake as directed.

Chicken-and-Sausage Jambalaya

Makes 10 to 12 servings

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 pound smoked turkey sausage, sliced into 1/2 -inch pieces

1 cup chopped onions (divided use)

1 cup chopped celery (divided use)

1 cup chopped green pepper (divided use)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped; do not drain

2 3/4 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup uncooked parboiled rice

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Melt butter in skillet. Add chicken and sausage. Cook over medium-high heat until meat starts to brown. Add 1/2 cup each of onions, celery and green peppers.

Cook 5 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, remaining 1/2 cup of each raw vegetable and remaining ingredients.

Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray; spoon jambalaya into prepared dish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Per serving (based on 10 servings): 218 calories, 4 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 48 milligrams cholesterol, 29 grams carbohydrate, 17 grams protein, 488 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber

Recipe and analysis provided by The Kansas City Star.

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