When we make jambalaya at Town Hall, we make it in very large portions. In other words, we start the pot with a 25-pound sack of onions. Just to caramelize those onions takes the better part of an hour, and by the time we have finished adding the other base ingredients like sausage, the cook charged with minding the pot has been stirring and scraping for more than an hour.
Restaurants necessarily work in these outsized portions, but the process, though not the size, is the same at home. So here is another instance in which you have a long-term relationship with your dish. Although you’re starting with just a couple of large onions and not a sack, the scraping and stirring step, as well as every other step, is just as important, because following those steps is the only way to get the flavor you want.
*Note: You can also use about 2 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof pot, heat the oil over high heat. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces, skin side down, and cook for 2 minutes, or until browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
When all of the chicken has been browned, drain the oil from the pot into a measuring cup and return ¼ cup of the oil to the pot (discard the remainder). Add the butter and heat over high heat until the butter melts.
Add the onions and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen up any little browned bits that might be sticking. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions just begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the andouille, tasso, and 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture and cook, continually scraping the bottom of the pot, until the meat and onions are caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Add the bell peppers, celery, jalapeño, garlic, the remaining spice mixture, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 10 more minutes, scraping the pot bottom every so often to loosen any browned bits that might be sticking.
Stir in the tomato sauce and the tomato paste and return the chicken to the pot. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Add the rice, stock, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cover, transfer to the oven, and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Spoon onto individual plates or shallow bowls, garnish with the scallions, and serve.