I hate to start with a disclaimer, but just to be totally clear before we get started – I’m not a chef or a medical professional. But I am pregnant and I do love food and enjoy cooking. So any recipe posts are just a little record of what I like to eat while some of my favourite go-to foods are off the menu. Hoping it gives others like me some ideas and inspiration for eating during their pregnancy.
Pregnant or not, this is hands down my favourite meal to cook at home.
Another recipe from my favourite cook book, The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight, the Southern Style Jambalaya is a smoky, sweet, warming and good-for-you one pot wonder of utter food fitness. The proper version is like a Creole paella, with chicken, chorizo, prawns and a whole load of colourful vegetables, cooked in one pan with the all important rice.
I couldn’t go a whole 9 months without this meal, so have made the adaptations to make it preggo-friendly, which involved simply removing the chorizo and prawns (cooked prawns are ok when pregnant but I’m playing it safe at this early stage).
So imagine the below set of ingredients, minus the sausage and shrimps…
It looks like a lot of ingredients but it’s all easy stuff to get hold of, and all of the effort is in the prep which is largely just chopping. The actual cooking bit is really quick, so do all your prep before you start (photoshoot optional).
The Pregnant Version Ingredients (Serves 6):
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or diced chicken for ease!)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 4 slender celery sticks, cut into 1cm slices
- 2 small green peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks (I added a red pepper to make up for the missing chorizo)
- 5 large ripe vine tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 tbsp paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 200g long-grain rice
- 450ml chicken stock
- 6 spring onions, sliced
- flaked sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
The beauty of this dish is that it’s, shall we say, ‘rustic’, therefore while I follow the recipe broadly, it’s totally fine to mix it up, add or remove and not be too concerned with the details. It’s a throw and go kind of dish.
How to (the quick overview, see the full recipe on the Hairy Bikers website):
- It’s not what the instructions say, but because it’s the most fiddly part I always start with peeling the tomatoes. The Hairy Biker’s top tip is to cut an X in the top of the tomatoes and drop them into just boiled water to soak. After a few minutes the skins pretty much just peel off, then you can chop the flesh. Works a treat!
- Fry the diced chicken off in the oil until it’s got a little colour then take out of the pan and set aside.
- Tip away the excess oil and throw in the onion, celery and peppers and cook for 8-10 minutes until softened.
- Stir in the oregano, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme and bay leaves and cook for 20-30 seconds before turning up the heat and adding those stripped and chopped tomatoes along with any juice you collected in the process.
- Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, then add the chicken back to the pan and chuck in the rice (yes this feels unnatural but just trust me!)
- Cook for a minute before pouring in the chicken stock, stirring it altogether, seasoning with salt and pepper, then bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until the rice is soft and has absorbed most of the liquid.
- Don’t let the mixture dry out – the HB’s use easy cook rice but if you don’t it will take longer to cook so keep an eye on it and add a little more stock (or just hot water) now and then to make sure it stays a little saucy.
- When the rice is done and you’ve got the right consistency, take it off the heat, stir in the spring onions and EAT!
Please please try it for yourself and let me know if you love as much as me!