Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cajun Chicken and Smoked Sausage Skillet

Blackening poultry and meats adds rich, smoky flavor to a dish, and Cajun seasonings take it a step deeper into the flavor pool. Paprika, cayenne, onion, garlic, oregano, and plenty of black pepper ensure tasty savor in every bite.

Here, I combined lean chicken breast and smoked sausage with Cajun herbs and spices, along with those classic Bayou accompaniments of beans, rice, and peppers. Although red beans and andouille sausage are more common in Cajun cooking, smoked sausage and black beans bring their own inviting flavors to the dish.

I used organic canned beans for this recipe, but if you cook your own, all the better. Precook the rice and this one-skillet dinner comes together quickly and easily.

Note: I kept the meat to a minimum in this recipe (less than a pound for four servings) because the vegetables and seasonings are just as important to the overall flavor and appeal. And beans and rice are filling on their own!

Tip: If you have black peppercorns, place 2 teaspoons in a little plastic bag and use a meat mallet to gently pound and crush them. "Cracked" black pepper is great for blackening. Otherwise, simply use the "coarse" setting on your pepper mill for a very similar effect.

Cracked Black Pepper
If you like Cajun-style dishes, see Cajun Shrimp Cocktail, and Cajun Fried Catfish with Chile-Tartar Sauce.

Serves 4

  • 2 tsp cracked (or coarsely ground) black pepper, plus more
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2 4-oz pieces
  • 6 oz smoked sausage
  • olive oil, for rubbing, plus 2 tbsp, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • sea salt
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • bottled hot sauce, for serving
Chicken Breast and Smoked Sausage
Skillet Ingredients 
Prepped Vegetables and Garlic
  1. Combine 2 teaspoons of black pepper, 1/2 tsp paprika, and cumin in a bowl. Rub the chicken breast and sausage with oil, then rub the spice mixture over both, coating all sides.
Blackening Spice Rub Mixture 
Spice-Rubbed Chicken and Sausage
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, swirling to coat. Add the chicken and sausage and cook, turning once, until blackened and just cooked through, 9-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breast (the sausage should already be cooked).
  2. Transfer both to a cutting board and let rest. Do not wipe out the skillet.
Meats Beginning to Cook
Blackened Chicken and Sausage
  1. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the garlic, jalapenos, onion, bell peppers, oregano, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 tsp of paprika. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook, stirring a few times, until the vegetables are almost tender, 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked beans and rice to the skillet mixture, stirring well to combine. Cook until hot throughout, 3 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the chicken and sausage into bite-sized pieces and add to the skillet along with accumulated juices. Stir to combine and until hot throughout. 
Vegetable Mixture Beginning to Cook 
Beans and Rice Added 
Meats Cut into Bite-Sized Pieces
To serve, divide the skillet mixture among 4 plates and serve, passing hot sauce at the table.

Cajun Chicken and Smoked Sausage Skillet

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