Friday, August 13, 2010

Bull's Semi Homemade - Jambalaya

I'm an okay cook. I can improvise with ingredients. I even like cooking. With 2 exceptions, I don't use prepared mixes or boxed dinners. Those exceptions are macaroni and cheese and jambalaya. Macaroni and cheese is self explanatory, I think everyone eats mac and cheese from the box mixes. But, jambalaya is a bit out of the norm.

At some point in my bachelor days I decided to give the Zatarains Jambalaya mix a shot. All you have to do is brown a pound of Andouille sausage, pour 2 cups of water on it and add the mix which includes the rice, spices and dehydrated veggies. Once you find a good Andouille (I get mine at Werner's) this is a wonderful meal for yourself with easily prepared and tasty leftovers for 1 or 2 lunches depending on how hungry you are when you make your jambalaya.

Back in my Wichita days when I owned my own business and also worked full time, my only day off was Sunday (though I did do some work on my business on Sundays) I would make some jambalaya in the afternoon and watch baseball or football or whatever movies I had rented while I ate it. Then, Sunday was HBO and I would have another bowl or 2 while watching The Sopranos or Oz or whatever HBO shows were on. To this day, I get hungry for jambalaya on Sundays, especially during football season. Jambalaya was the second thing I ever cooked for Stella (she hated it because it was too spicy, she hasn't eaten it since). Now I mostly make it for football Sunday or when Stella's not around to eat dinner.

In the years since I've started making it with some add on ingredients. The first thing I added was jalapeno which I saute in bacon fat before adding the Andouille to brown. Then I started adding about half of an onion diced which I saute with the jalapeno. Sometimes, if I have one around, I add a finely diced bell pepper. The vegetables really add some texture and flavor to the jambalaya and make up for the admittedly crappy dehydrated veggies that are included in the mix. Best of all, though, the veggies fool people into thinking they're eating a jambalaya prepared from scratch (which is a hella lot work with 20 ingredients). I used to take it to work pot lucks and everyone thought I had slaved over the stove putting together all the ingredients. I can't think of a better jambalaya that I've eaten, even without adding fresh vegetables. I'm not saying there aren't better jambalayas out there, just that I've never had them. Finally, it makes 3 meals for $7 which is pretty good for as tasty as it is.


The DLC said...

I haven't eaten a box mac & cheese in probably 10 years. Always homemade. Of course I don' t have children.

Chimpotle said...

We never eat box mac & cheese, and my wife routinely cooks for multiple kids.

Although, I would gladly tear through a box of the traditional, powdered cheese Kraft box.

Nuke said...

I rarely make mac & cheese. When I do it's box Kraft and I add browned hamburger(we grew up on this as a main dish rather than a side).

As for Jambalaya I use the same mix. Instead of a pound of sausage I use half a pound, half a pound of boiled shrimp, and a half pound of chicken breast sauteed wit diced white onion and red bell pepper. You are right on tho, the veggies really sell it!

Bull E. Vard said...

Nuke, I've thought about using leftover chicken, but I love Andouille too much to have followed through. Do you put the shrimp in before the rice or do you throw it in right before the rice is ready to eat?

I forgot to mention that sometimes I use a cup of wine or beer instead of 1 cup of water. It adds a little bit more sweetness to the rice.

Nuke said...

I put it in before the rice is done so it can pick up some of the seasoning. I really like the beer/wine idea. Am totally going to steal that next time. Thanks!

emawkc said...

Zatarains also makes a dirty rice & beans mix that kicks much ass (just add some ground beef).

I mix it up then serve it wrapped in a tortilla with some cheese, kind of like a cajun version of Chipotle.

Bull E. Vard said...

I have an issue with dirty rice, I don't like the ground beef in it. I think it's related to my texture issue. I do eat the red beans and rice mix a couple of times a year, but I almost never eat the leftovers.