In a large saucepan or a very large skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning until browned about 10-12 minutes. Take them out and put them on a plate to cool.
In the same pan (leave the oil and little juice brown bits from the sausage), add the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic to the pan and cook covered over medium-low heat until the veggies start to soften and turn translucent (about 6-7 minutes).
Then, add the rice, chicken broth, sausage, cayenne, bay leaves and salt and bring it to a boil. Cover it quickly then reduce the heat and simmer it on medium low for 15 minutes. Although you will be tempted to stir it, check on it, etc – do not take the lid off. Walk away…. Let it cook for 15 minutes.
After that, stir in the chicken and cover it again for about 7-8 minutes until the chicken is done and everything else is tender. Leave it covered but take it off the heat and let it stand for about 2 minutes before you remove the lid to serve. Make sure you find the bay leaves and remove them before you serve it. They are used more as a tool to flavor the food and I wouldn’t recommend eating them.
A quick note about the ingredients:
You can make this dish as spicy as you want with your selection of sausage. You can also make it more Cajun by using the Andouille sausages – pork sausage that has been heavily smoked and has a lot of spice. We like to use the mild Italian sausages for a slight kick. You can find any of those sausages in the meat section at the grocery store. When it comes to rice, I love to use jasmine rice. You won’t generally find it in the rice section (at least not at our Wal-Mart) but if you check the Asian food section they almost always have it.
As for the garlic – use the fresh if you can. I know so many folks that are timid about using fresh garlic but you can really taste the difference! Look in the onion section at your grocery store and you will find heads of garlic sold loosely like onions. A nice head of garlic will be firm to the touch and not have any brown or mushy spots. I’ve used white and light purple garlic but the taste is really the same. Under the skin you will see little sections – those are cloves. A quick way to prepare garlic: separate however many cloves you need (leave the little skins around the cloves). Using a sharp knife, carefully slice off the stem end. Put the garlic on your cutting board and lay the flat end of your knife on top. Using the heel of your hand, give it a good smack. This will loosen the skins away from your clove of garlic and you can separate it out much easier than painstakingly peeling each clove by hand. As an added bonus, it is already a little smashed and ready for mincing.
Vegetarian version: Substitute soy sausage crumbles for the sausage and soy chicken for the chicken, and vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Follow the same instructions.