Chicken is good for your diet and your wallet. Whether you count carbs, fat grams, calories, points, or pennies, chicken is a smart choice. It has less fat than red meat, is low in calories and high in protein.
Chicken is also versatile. It can be sautéed, microwaved, broiled, baked, or grilled. It goes in salad, soup and sandwiches. One of the easiest ways to use chicken is in a one-pot meal - an updated casserole.
Casseroles used to be a way to clean out the refrigerator - just add a can of condensed soup. Today's updated casserole can save just as much time and energy, but can also offer as much flavor and complexity as a sophisticated dinner party entrée.
Jambalaya is a standard of Creole cookery. It combines chicken and rice with onions, peppers, tomatoes and a diverse range of spices. One theory about the name is that it comes from the French word jambon, meaning ham, which is often an ingredient of the classic jambalaya.
The Spaniards governing New Orleans in the 18th century called all residents of European heritage criollo, which later became creole and implied a refined cultural background. Creole cooking reflects the French, Spanish and African cuisines that were stirred together in early New Orleans pots. It is considered more sophisticated than Cajun cooking. Creole foods use more tomatoes, and Cajun more spices. Both make liberal use of chopped green peppers and onions.
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The following chicken jambalaya is an updated, more healthful version than the traditional dish. But it is full of flavor, without a lot of fat and cholesterol. With some advance planning, it's an easy dish to put together.
Yield: Makes 6 servings.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) whole plum tomatoes in juice
- 1 rib celery, cut in 1/2-inch slices
- 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 scallion, diced
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 cup long-grain brown rice, cooked according to package directions
- In a 3-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onion is tender but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring, until pieces are white on all sides.
- Add tomatoes with liquid, breaking up with spoon. Mix in celery, bell pepper, scallion and tomato paste. Stir in bay leaf, thyme, pepper flakes and cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked and sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf. Stir rice into chicken mixture until well combined.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
4 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
32 g. carbohydrate,
17 g. protein,
4 g. dietary fiber,
223 mg. sodium