Spicy Cajun Jambalaya

When I think of Spicy Cajun Jambalaya, I have visions of Mardi Gras, strolling the streets of New Orleans with all it’s wonderful sounds and colors. Jambalaya is traditionally made with meat, vegetables, stock and completed with rice. This dish is very close to the Saffron infused Spanish Paella. For this version, I decided to prepare it Cajun style, with no tomatoes and with an added twist of my own, fresh jalapeños. Influenced by the Caribbean  Islands and mixed with the Spanish culture there are many variations of Cajun Jambalaya. This is a great make ahead recipe. Taste much better the next day! And it’s freezer friendly too.

 

Spicy Cajun Jambalaya
Spicy Cajun Jambalaya

 

Ingredients 

1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
6 ounces pork side meat or thick cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced into 1 inch pieces
Salt
White pepper
Cajun spice blend
Smoked Paprika
Olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 large sweet bell pepper, diced (I used half orange and half green)
1 to 2 jalapeños, minced (removing seeds is optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried thyme or
1 tablespoon dried sweet basil
2 teaspoons ground sage
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Cajun spice blend
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups Jasmine rice or long grain rice
1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt to taste
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 pound medium shrimp, cleaned and peeled ( seasoned lightly with salt,white pepper and Cajun seasoning)

Smpked Sausage, pork and chicken thighs...
Smpked Sausage, pork side meat or thick cut bacon and chicken thighs…
Prepping ahead is the key to a great recipe!
Prepping ahead is the key to a great recipe!

 

 

Directions

1. Preheat heavy dutch oven style pot to medium/high heat for a few minutes. Add the sausage and pork, cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until you get some good browning.

2. While the sausage is browning, season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, white pepper, Cajun spice blend and smoked paprika. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the chicken to the pot and cook for another 10 minutes. If there is too much oil, drain off a little bit of oil.

3. Add the onions, bell peppers and jalapeños and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, basil, sage, pepper flakes, Cajun seasoning, white pepper and black pepper, stir well to combine.

4. Pour in the broth, bring to a boil and taste for salt. Add the rice, bring back up to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Cook for 15 minutes, lay the seasoned shrimp (if using) and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Stir the jambalaya to combine before serving. Yields 8 to 10 servings.

*garnish with lemon or lime wedges, the citrus really brings out all of the flavors!

Tips~ If you want to prepare a milder version of this dish, just save the Cajun seasoning for the end and omit the chile peppers. I added the shrimp at the last minute, but you could omit it as well if seafood is not your thing. I used dried herbs because that is what I had on hand, but fresh would be tasty!!

Spicy Cajun Jambalaya
Spicy Cajun Jambalaya

Spicy Cajun Jambalaya

Dulce de Leche Churros with Orange Zest & Cinnamon

I must have been a toddler when I had my  first Mexican Churro. Growing up in Los Angeles, every other Sunday we would visit one of our local swap meets or as they are known in Texas, La Pulga (flea markets). The swap meet was where you could find, old and new items, fresh produce and of course those warm and sugary Mexican style churros. We never prepared them at home since they were available in a variety of locations. It really was more of a special treat we looked forward to every time we visited the swap meet.

I am not 100 % sure about this, but I believe the origins  of the churro come from Spain.  Although all of my life, I just knew them as a wonderful Mexican treat. Churros are typically fried and sprinkled with a sugar/cinnamon mix. They can be served simply with a cup of hot chocolate or cafe for dipping during brunch. One of my favorite ways to enjoy churros is the way you will find them in Mexico, filled with cajeta or dulce de leche. For this recipe, the already prepared dulce de leche in incorporated into the dough.
This recipe was adapted from Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, owners of  Border Grill. I have been a long time fan of their cooking shows since their days on Food Network.

Dulce de Leche Churros

Toasting the Flour for Churros

Churro dough after dulce de leche is mixed in

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups water
13 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons brown sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla
1 cup dulce de leche caramel

You will also need
Oil for frying
A pastry bag
A large star tip for pastry bag
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2  more tablespoons cinnamon

Dulce de Leche Churros

 

Directions

1. In a large pot, add the water, butter, brown sugar, orange zest and salt. Bring up to a boil, add all the flour and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Using a wooden spoon stir quickly to form a dough ball. Cook for a few minutes to toast the flour.

2. Remove from heat. If you have a stand mixer, you could transfer now. I left mine right in the pot and used my electric mixer to mix while adding one egg at a time. Mix well after each egg.

3. Scrape down sides, add vanilla and mix well. Finally, add in the dulce de leche. You could transfer the mixture to the refrigerator until you are ready to use. If frying right away, transfer half of the mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

4. In a heavy pot, preheat canola oil (about 4 cups)to 375 degrees F. Now you can make bite size churros, about 2 inches long, or you can make a them up to 5 inches long. Use a small knife to cut off as you carefully drop them into the oil. Fry for about 4 minutes, drain onto baking sheet lined with paper towels. Dredge in cinnamon/sugar mixture while the churros are still warm. The centers will be soft because of the dulce de leche. This recipe yields 8 to 10 servings.

mmmmmm....mmmmmm!!
mmmmmm….mmmmmm!!

Tips~ My best tip when preparing churros is if possible, do not fry them until an hour before serving. If you have to make them ahead of time, let them cool on baking sheet. Cover loosely or they will have a tendency to become humid or moist and that will ruin the crispy texture. When I prepared these, after dipping them in the sugar mixture, I stored them in my cool oven uncovered until the next day.

 

Dulce de Leche Churros