I love leftovers, I really do. Some people don’t, which makes me wonder whether they a) eat everything they cook in one sitting, b) have bulging bin bags of food waste or c) simply exercise better portion control than me. Answers on a postcard.
But I’ve been cooking with leftovers a lot since Christmas and no sooner had I found creative uses for the remaining ham, turkey, veg, bread sauce and cranberry sauce than I cooked a chicken that was far too big for the two of us. Normally I’d treat this as a joyous opportunity but this time inspiration failed to strike.
I looked in the fridge. It was full of cold chicken. I looked in the cupboards. I looked in the pages of my absurdly large collection of cookery books. I asked my husband, who as usual said ‘pie’. I sighed. I may have sulked a bit. ‘I want something different,’ I wailed. Eventually I got over myself and made this.
It’s Cajun-inspired. It’s not a ‘proper’ jambalaya, about which controversy rages anyway. It is though a wonderfully spicy antidote to gloomy winter weather.
You’ll need a deep lidded frying pan or fireproof casserole.
Cajun-Style Chicken Rice
100g chorizo, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 green pepper, de-seeded and diced
2 tspn paprika
1/2 tspn cayenne
1/2 tspn ground black pepper
1 tspn dried thyme
250g long grain rice
1 tin chopped tomatoes
350 ml good quality chicken stock
Salt, to taste
About 250g cooked chicken
60-80g raw prawns (optional), deveined
Big handful of roughly chopped parsley or coriander
Hot sauce & lemon quarters, to serve (optional)
Fry the chorizo gently until the oil starts to run. Remove and set aside, leaving the oil in the pan. Add the olive oil and when it’s hot, cook the onions, pepper and celery until they’ve softened, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Stir through the spices and thyme, add the garlic and fry gently for another minute or two. Add the rice, stirring to coat, and cook briefly until just translucent.
Pour in the tomatoes and stock and put the chorizo back in. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes, then carefully fold in the chicken. Put the lid back on, turn down the heat and give the pan a shake to settle the rice. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Push the prawns, if using, into the rice, put the lid back on and leave the pan to sit off the heat for 10 minutes. Stir through most of the parsley, reserving a little for garnish and offer hot sauce, Sriracha or Tabasco, on the side. A squeeze of lemon juice doesn’t go amiss, either.