Saturday’s plan was to sit and watch college football most of the afternoon & evening, which never fails to inspire me to cook a big pot of something and maybe even bake a batch of bread to go along with whatever is in the pot. This Saturday, with it’s line up of conference championships, inspired me to make some recipes from college friends. That and some Double H andouille sausage I picked up at the Holiday market. Pat asked if I was going to make gumbo with the sausage. Considering I have at least 3 different batches in the freezer and it not being a favorite of at least one household member who says watching football with her parents is sort of like this beer commercial, I decided against it. She was already in for a long day of football with us (First SEC Championship, then the ACC & Big 10 games) and I didn’t want to antagonize her. Besides, gumbo takes time – not just the time to chop all those vegetables, make a broth and a roux, it needs to simmer for a few hours and is really best after all the flavors have had time to meld – next day gumbo is way better than fresh gumbo. Instead, I went for jambalaya, which is infinitely easier and far quicker. You can start chopping your veggies and an hour later, your jambalaya is ready to serve. Not so with gumbo.
The jambalaya recipe I have is from a friend who went to college in New Orleans. I can’t quite remember the pedigree of the recipe, I think it was shared with him by some regulars at the bar he tended uptown. I want to say it was their grandmother’s recipe. I spent quite a bit of time in New Orleans when I was in college – even flirting with the idea of moving there over the years. I had a grad school application for Tulane in my hands when I met Pat and decided to see where things with him were before applying to grad school. Later, Pat interviewed for a job down there, ultimately turning it down because he wasn’t sure it was a good fit. Within months, we had moved here for a two year ‘trial run’, which was 16 years ago last September. I suppose it never was in the cards for me to live in The Big Easy, but all that time spent there cemented a love of Louisiana style cooking. The recipe as I have it is a two page step-by-step that I wish I could just photo copy and hand to you. But, as I don’t have a scanner, we’ll have to do this the hard way, with me typing it in.
Like any recipe, I only sort of use it a guideline. Jambalaya was originally pulled together using what was on hand, which is my favorite style of cooking. In this particular batch, I used turkey broth because after making it two weekends in a row, I have gobs of it on hand. I skipped the chicken and instead loaded it with seafood – catfish, shrimp & mussels in addition to the sausage.
Admittedly, I did not do a very good job of coordinating the timing of the foods I was making Saturday. While the jambalaya was ready for the Auburn kick-off, the Pan Cubano didn’t come out of the oven until after half-time.
My very dear pal Will sent me the bread recipe last week and in the ensuing conversation, mentioned the recipe could use some tweaking. While I can take a glance at most recipes and generally give a well educated guess as to how to tweak it, I find that I have to make bread recipes, to the letter, before I can wrap my head around how to alter them. In this case, the required starter did not get a full 24 hours to ripen, although it was close enough. I used lard, but it was the portion of the batch I did recently that got slightly overdone, which definitely has a more distinctive taste to it. That taste is quite evident in the resulting bread. The bread itself is light & fluffy with a soft crust – I’ll use it for hearty sandwiches this week – and toasts quite well. We ate it straight out of the oven with cheese & jam – it paired wonderfully with my white wine & herb jam (which is sort of honey-like) as well as the apple pie jam I really need to blog about. In fact, we took out an entire jar of the apple pie jam with a loaf of this bread Saturday night.
Only half of the starter the recipe makes is required for a batch of 4 loaves, leaving me with enough starter to do a second batch this week. I think this time I’ll cut back on the amount of lard I use and sub butter. I used entirely all white bread flour in this round (I’m not sure which had my family squealing more – that Auburn victory or the fact that for once, I made white bread! and it was good!) and I’d like to play around with using whole grain flours in this recipe. I’m considering making smaller ‘loaves’ that are more sandwich bun size. This bread would be perfect for that. This is definitely a recipe I will be revisiting and soon. I will not be reposting it, but you can find it here. Thanks for sharing it Will!
1 lb Andouille Sausage, sliced
(1 lb chicken breast, diced)
1 lb. shrimp, mussels, crawfish, etc. (One or any combination)
2-3 Bell Peppers, diced
2-3 onions, diced
3-4 scallions, minced
1-3 jalapeño peppers, diced
2-3 spicy, sweet but not explosive peppers, diced
2-3 bay leaves
3 cups white long grained rice
6 cups water or broth
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (28 oz) stewed tomatoes
2-3 fresh diced tomatoes, if desired
1-3 stalks celery, diced
2-4 cloves minced garlic
Spices: crushed red pepper, black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, thyme, old bay
Place 3 cups of water or broth in 6-8 quart stew pot with sausage. Bring to a boil.
(In the meantime, brown the chicken in a frying pan, spicing it as it goes along (red pepper, salt, old bay, black pepper). Add to boiling water/sausage.)
When the water is boiling, add vegetables. When boiling again, add tomatoes & paste. When boiling, add remaining water or broth. When boiling, slice in ride. When boiling, add spices, garlic, chicken & seafood. At boil, cover pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes. When the rice has absorbed all liquid, serve with hot sauce of your choice.
Can be reheated by adding liquid –it’s especially good with beer.
(I bet some of you thought I was going to talk more about college football here didn’t you? I prefer to leave that to the experts that write about it, while I stick to what I know, which is cooking. However, since you asked, it’s been quite the year to be an Auburn Tiger fan. Had you told us even three weeks ago we’d be heading to the National Championship game next month, we’d have thought you were kidding. We haven’t stopped high-fiving each other in weeks. Even Edie wakes up in the morning saying, “Guess what? We’re going to to the National Championship!” For the record, we’d have all been quite happy with just a few more wins than last season, when we were 3-9. Clearly, we got that. This is just the gravy on top.)