Monday, January 27, 2014

feeling adult

Listen, I am 27 and a half, and I still feel like a kid. Not because I still get carded nearly every time I belly up to a bar or because I'm irresponsible or anything. I mean, I have a mortgage, I've worked for nearly three years at the same organization, and I'm discussing retirement and future kids' college savings with my fiancĂ©. Had you asked me even a couple years ago, I couldn't say any of those things. But none of them really make me feel grown up. 

You know what does, though? 

The excitement I derive from things like finding a cleaning agent that tackles the soap scum in my neglected shower. And finding a total lifetime keeper of a recipe. I somehow managed to do both this weekend, and was feeling super mature, at least until I walked in to a training class today, and realized everyone had at least 20 years on me. 


Sunday evening, SS and I were wandering the aisles of the Soviet Safeway, patting ourselves on the back for not eating out for the THIRD meal in a row that day, but generally stymied about what we wanted for dinner. 

About halfway down the beverage aisle, "have you ever made jambalaya?" he asked. I had not, and was totally fine with my boring, but easy, plan to make roasted potatoes and steaks, but his investment in the idea of a home cooked meal that wasn't the same thing we'd had a million times won me over. We did a quick google, and settled on the first recipe I found. AND IT WAS DELICIOUS. So, without further rambling, I offer you a slightly tweaked recipe that I suggest you make riiiiiight now, whether you, too, feel like a grown up after success in the kitchen, or you just like a dish with amazing flavor and minimal effort. 

Allrecipes' Jambalaya (tweaked where noted below)

  • 2 TBS peanut or olive oil divided (I used 1 TBS "smokin' chipotle" olive oil and 1 TBS regular) 
  • 1 TBS cajun seasoning
  • 10 oz andouille sausage sliced into rounds (I used 2 links of Johnsonville's pre-packaged, pre-cooked stuff)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken cut in to 1 inch pieces (I skipped this and threw in about half a pound of pre-cooked shrimp at the very end)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (I used more like 4 and chopped them in to bigger pieces than you'd associate with "minced")
  • 1 can (16 oz) crushed Italian tomatoes (SS and I turned up our noses and this line item, because we are jambalaya newbies, so instead we bought a 28 oz can of petite diced tomatoes, used about half the tomatoes, poured some water in the can, mushed up the lingering tomatoes, and poured about a cup of the tomato-y juice that resulted in to the skillet)
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt (I'd say go light on the salt, wish I had)
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce (our Tabasco had gone bad, I used siracha) 
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp file powder (Allrecipes says file powder is: a seasoning made from the ground, dried leaves of the sassafras tree. It's an integral part of Creole cooking, and is used to thicken and flavor Gumbos and other Creole dishes. Soviet Safeway carries no such thing. Our jambalaya was fine without it. I suspect yours will be, too). 
  • 1 1/4 cup uncooked white rice (ok, so, we bought brown rice, and I didn't look at the package, this becomes relevant later, but, spoiler alert, it means you need to increase your estimated cooking time)
  • 2 1/2 C chicken broth (I used 2 cups broth, 1/2 cup water, because, well, cans of broth come in 2 cup cup quantities, and I didn't want to waste)
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a large heavy Dutch oven over medium heat (this is where I used the smokin' chipotle olive oil). Season the sausage and chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning. Saute sausage until browned. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil, and saute chicken pieces until lightly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside. (I skipped the chicken, and just threw the plain olive oil in after I took out the sausage).
  2. In the same pot, saute onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until tender. Stir in crushed tomatoes, and season with red pepper, black pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce and file powder. Stir in chicken and sausage. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. (Ok, so, our brown rice package says 40 to 50 minutes, covered, in terms of how much time the rice needs to cook, and that it did. Just check what the package of rice you buy says, you may need to adjust {expectations and cooking time} accordingly. Just throw more liquid {tomato juice, water, broth...your choice} in if the liquid is absorbed but the rice is still crunchy.) 

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