Man, what is it about certain foods? That no matter what you do with them, they’re just not pretty. Jambalaya is one of those foods; I’m not even sure why, really – you’d think with the chunks of tasty meat, the way the rice takes on the color of the cooking liquid and how it becomes all glossy and fat, it’d be something nice to look at. But it’s not. And why am I going on about this? Because I’m not going to force you to look at lots of pictures of unattractive food. You’ll get the necessary pictures and that’s it.
In my quest to stop making so much damn Mexican food for poker, I looked online for a good slow cooker recipe. As previously mentioned, my kitchen is like the seventh circle of hell in the summer, so I really do prefer not to use the stove on poker night when there are 12 people in my apartment. I finally came across a few recipes for jambalaya, but none of them seemed exactly what I wanted. I also realized that jambalaya is pretty much just a bunch of tomatoes, meat, and spices – even I can’t mess that up. So I went with what I figured would work out best, and as it turns out, I WAS RIGHT. This was so good.
You know what I don’t like about slow cookers? Is that they inevitably [or at least for me] create a ring of goo on the top, wherever the food you’re cooking doesn’t touch. Why does it do that? Is it just to mock me and my food blogging? Is it secretly laughing at me as I try to get a picture that doesn’t have its ring of shame prominently featured? Ugh. Screw you, slow cooker. If you weren’t so helpful, you’d be sitting somewhere with the husband’s griddle.
But I digress.
The recipe I came up with went something like this:
1.25 pounds chicken thighs, diced
1 pound chicken breast, whole [frozen!]
1 pound sausage [you can use andouille or any other hot sausage]
1 onion, diced
2 cans of diced tomatoes, 28 oz each
2 cups chicken broth
4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 box of instant rice
Throw everything except the rice into the slow cooker. Mix. Cook on low for 8 hours. Come home, dig out the chicken breast and shred it, then toss it back into the slow cooker. Mix some more. Throw box of instant rice into mixture and continue cooking with the lid off. Once all the liquid is absorbed, the jambalaya is ready.
Now, some of you may be saying, “but Michelle! Why should the chicken breast be frozen? You make no sense!” And while part of that is true, I’ve realized that my biggest problem with the slow cooker is that [boneless] chicken breasts tend to taste … not so great when cooked for long periods of time. I thought I’d try throwing full, frozen breasts in there and see how that turned out. It actually worked really well, as the chicken was tender, but not mushy, and had a good taste to it still.
Overall, I was really happy with how the jambalaya turned out; it had some good heat to it and was really comforting and filling. Everyone seemed to really like it, and even though I had a billion gallons of food in the slow cooker, it was literally scraped dry by the end of the night.