Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jambalaya Pasta with Penne, Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille

This recipe is by Emeril Lagasse and it's pure genius. (It's actually the only recipe by Lagasse I've made, but it is enough to endear him to me.) The mix of all the different flavors is perfect and as the pasta sits the sauce gets nice and thick and soaked into the penne. Yum. I think I'm going to try this recipe with orzo pasta next time, but the penne really is wonderful. This is the only Jambalaya dish I've ever eaten so I have no idea how authentic it is, but it's so delicious that it wouldn't really make a difference in my book. This is really a dish to impress.

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This recipe has a lot of ingredients, but I promise it's worth it. Even though recipe says it serves 4-6, I think 6-8 is much more accurate. It is really important that you don't overcook your pasta since you're bound to have leftovers and soggy noodles don't make anyone happy. While the amount of seasoning may seem like a lot, it's just perfect.

After making this a bunch of times, I have a pretty simple routine down: First I start the pasta water, then I brown the chicken, then I cook the veggies and the sausage, and then I add everything back into the pot (besides the pasta) and let simmer for about 8 minutes. I am super nervous about my chicken being cooked through so this gives the chicken time to fully cook and the extra liquid to evaporate. While the chicken is simmering, I then roast my shrimp in the oven. All you have to do is throw them on a sheet pan with some oil and the seasoning mixture and roast them at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Once they're done, I add the shrimp and the pasta to the pan and let it all meld together for a couple of minutes (off the heat and in the pot I cooked the pasta in since you will have a lot of food). Now you definitely don't have to do it this way, but this is what's easiest for me. And since I prefer my shrimp roasted I found a way to make it work. The more you make this dish the easier it all comes together.

Would I make this again? Already a family staple in our house.

Jambalaya Pasta with Penne, Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 pound dry penne rigate
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound peeled, deveined large shrimp
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Essence, divided, recipe follows
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, 1-inch diced
3/4 pound andouille sausage, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup yellow onion, small diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, small diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

1. Fill a large, 1-gallon stock pot with a pasta insert, 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and add 1/4 cup of the salt as it boils. Place the penne in the salted water and return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook the pasta until nearly al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and set aside, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

2. While the pasta cooks, set a 14-inch saute pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, swirl the pan to evenly coat with the oil. Season the shrimp with 2 teaspoons of the Essence and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Place the shrimp in the pan and sear for 1 minute per side. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside. Add another tablespoon of the olive oil to the saute pan and season the chicken breast with 2 teaspoons of the Essence and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Place the chicken breast in the pan and sear for 3 minutes, turning to ensure even browning. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside with the seared shrimp.

3. Place the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the saute pan and add the sausage, onions and bell peppers. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is lightly caramelized and the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock to the pan and scrape with a spoon to remove any browned bits that have formed in the bottom of the pan, about 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes, fresh thyme, the remaining tablespoon of Essence and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream to the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes. Return the shrimp and chicken to the pan, as well as the nearly al dente pasta and the reserved 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Continue to cook the sauce and pasta, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp and chicken are cooked through, the pasta is al dente and most of the pasta cooking water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the basil and Parmesan. Toss to combine and serve while hot.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup

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