My son Ali went to school in New Orleans, where he developed a deep and abiding love of spicy Cajun food, but we’d already fallen in love with Cajun food long before that.  I found this recipe in Emeril Lagasse’s cookbook:  Louisiana Real & Rustic.  It’s one of my favorite cookbooks – with family recipes and wonderful storytelling.  This recipe is a blend of two recipes from the cookbook, but super easy to make and so delicious!

Note: I’m going to write this recipe out the way I cook – in sequence. Hope it’s not too confusing!

1 lb. raw ez peel shrimp

Rinse the shrimp well, peel and set the shrimp aside for later. Add the shells to four cups water and simmer for 20-30 minutes. You only need 3 1/2 cups of the shrimp broth. Just take it off the heat and let the shells sit until you need to add the broth. Then add them after pouring them through a fine mesh strainer.

2 Tbsp Oil
2 1/2 cups onion
1 bell pepper
3/4 cup celery
2 slices turkey or real bacon, diced

Chop the onions, pepper and celery and saute in a large dutch oven. Add in the turkey bacon and cook another 5-7 minutes.

4 bay leaves
1 lb. andouille sausage, halved and cut into 1/2″ slices
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp crushed garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cayenne (can reduce if you don’t like spicy)
1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme (can use a bit more – I love thyme!)

Add to dutch oven and saute 5-7 minutes.

2 cups rice (I use basmati)
3 1/2 cups shrimp broth
4 chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

Add all to dutch oven, stir well and cover. Reduce heat to low and cook 25 minutes. Totally delicious and even better the second day.

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