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This dish had humble beginnings as a poor man's catchall for leftover meats, fish, and sausages and plenty of rice. Today it is one of the most revered dishes in Louisiana, and both Creole and Cajun cuisines proudly claim it as their own.
2 pounds chicken parts
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces andouille or other spicy smoked sausage such as kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup long-grain rice
1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, in juice
1 cup fish stock or bottled clam juice
1/2 to 1 cup water
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound shrimp with tails, shelled & deveined
4 green onions, thinly sliced (white & tender green parts)
1/2 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce, or to taste
Pat the chicken dry, then sprinkle on all sides with the cayenne.
In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until browned. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Remove the chicken and sausage with a slotted spoon to a plate.
Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the thyme and rice and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, or until the rice is coated with oil. Add the tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up with the side of a spoon. Stir in the fish stock, 1/2 cup water,and the bay leaf.
Return the chicken and sausage to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Distribute the shrimp over the top, pressing them lightly into the rice. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes more, or until the chicken and shrimp are cooked through and the rice is tender. (If the rice has absorbed all of the liquid before it is tender, add up to 1/2 cup more water and cook for a few minutes longer.) Remove the skillet from the heat.
Stir in the green onions and season to taste with the hot-pepper sauce. Serves 4.
Cajun Maque Choux
One reason this sweet corn dish tastes so good is the distinctive flavor that bacon drippings add to the sautéed vegetables, but using vegetable oil or butter instead will also produce good results. Cajun Maque Choux makes a wonderful accompaniment to fried or roast chicken.
3 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels thawed if frozen
2 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded & chopped 1 teaspoon sugar Salt & black pepper
In a medium-size skillet, heat the bacon drippings over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft. Add the corn, tomatoes, and sugar, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. (Use salt carefully because the bacon drippings may be salty.) Cook, covered, over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are heated through. Serves 4.
The Best of New Orleans. Copyright © by Brooke Dojny. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.