Before we go any further, I have to put my hands up and admit that the bulk of this recipe came from the Slimming World online recipe book - and you can see the original recipe here.
However, having got that out of my system, I can tell you that my version of the recipe is heaps better. LOL No, seriously!
Okay, it doesn't accord with the Slimming World ethos - but then it was never meant to. What I was after, was to take a recipe that had been produced with slimming in mind - and gee it up a bit with additional flavours and textures. The end result should be that it remains a healthy meal, but has all the good things that an ordinary (a.k.a. not diet) meal would have, such as variety, flavour, texture and substance.
Well, blow me down with a feather, but it only worked.
I'm not sure how much of a "Jambalaya" it was - never having had a strictly traditional Jambalaya - but it had rice, tomatoes and chicken, not to mention heat from spice and full bodied character. What a result. Even better was that I liked it - which doesn't happen often with Cajun or smoked paprika dishes. It has been a while since we've had anything with chorizo in it - and I've found myself lusting after meatballs in tomato sauce with chorizo sizzling alongside, which I took as a hint that maybe I'd come round to the idea. While I was slicing up the chorizo - as is required of the chef - I had a little taster to establish just how spicy/hot the flavour was. I could easily have carried on and eaten best part of the entire sausage, it was that good. Who knows, maybe my taste buds have matured where smoked paprika is concerned!
I knew that hubby would require his Jambalaya to taste Cajun - so added the pinch of red chilli flakes, the smoked paprika and ordinary sweet paprika. I also wanted the dish to be substantial, so added the cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. The biggest change was the addition of the chorizo. I just couldn't imagine a Jambalaya type dish without something big to hold it all together - and the Quorn sausages in the original recipe just wouldn't do it for me. Not to mention that I think Quorn is disgusting. (Sorry Quorn manufacturers!).
The final dish was really tasty - and worked out to just under 500 calories per portion - so I didn't do too much damage to the original recipe with my additions! Whether on a diet or just plain hungry, I recommend this one to you. It'll keep the wolf from the door, that's for sure.
Now there's a couple of "cook's tips" for you :
- make sure you start off with an enormous, deep, frying pan. I used my 22" Ceracraft pan and only just managed to get everything into it. If you have something deeper but that is reliably non-stick, I'd advise using it!
- you need your pan to be non-stick, as when it comes to the point of putting the lid on and letting it chuckle for a while, it does have a nasty habit of trying to burn the underside of the food. Hence, a non-stick pan helps no end with reducing the likelihood of any burning - but do remember to stir and turn the contents regularly!
- using a powder chicken stock is by far and away the better approach. A chicken stock cube will do the job, but in 200ml of water it can have problems dissolving. A teaspoonful of chicken stock powder, however, can go into the pan with 200ml of water without any trouble whatsoever. I recommend Essential Cuisine's chicken stock powder - it's only £3.99 a tub - and the tub last for ages.
So there we have it! This dish would be perfect for cooking in advance, then heating up in the microwave for Bonfire Night. I can just imagine being out in the garden with the fireworks, keeping my hands warm around a mugful of this Jambalaya and oohing and aaahing in between forkfuls. Perfect.
CHICKEN & CHORIZO JAMBALAYA (serves 4)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, finely sliced
100g chorizo sausage
a pinch of red chilli flakes
2 sweet peppers, your choice of colours, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 courgette, quartered and diced
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 large mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
half a tsp paprika
zest and juice of half a lemon
400g can chopped tomatoes
250g long grain rice
200ml low salt chicken stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped.
1. Heat the oil in a huge deep frying pan (it needs to be big, because there's a lot to fit into it!) and fry the chopped onion until softened, with a pinch of sea salt to bring out the moisture.
2. Increase the heat under the pan and add the chicken, chorizo and chilli flakes. Cook until the chicken has lost all evidence of pinkness.
3. Add the thyme, smoked paprika and paprika and stir to combine.
4. Add the peppers, courgette, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, lemon juice and zest. On the same high heat, cook but stir gently so as not to break up the vegetables, until the vegetables have begun to soften and reduced in size.
5. Add the tinned tomatoes, stock cube and 200ml of water. Stir to combine and bring to the boil.
6. Add the rinsed rice, stir through and bring back to the boil. Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook gently - stirring occasionally to prevent any burning underneath the mixture - until the rice has cooked and is tender. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
7. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.