Saturday, February 8, 2014

Jambalayah and My Mother's Rice Pot

Jambalayah is one of those dishes which is nearly impossible to do "wrong". Okay, start with rice. Broth is good. Whatever bits of meat you have, unless you don't want meat. Yes, it's possible to have Jambalayah without bacon fat, though my Inner Deep Southern Woman shudders at the idea. Y'all do yours however you want. Here's how I did mine last night.

1 can chicken ~$3
1 tin smoked oysters ~$2 (I think. I bought them intending to just eat them on crackers, then didn't.)
1/2 package turkey sausage ~$2.50
1 can diced tomatoes ~.80
1 chopped onion
bacon grease
seasoned salt
black pepper
cayenne pepper
olive oil

In my kitchen is yellow crock that has been mine for 20 years, but which I still refer to as "my mother's rice pot". When I was a little girl, she cooked rice in it. Occasionally other things, but mostly rice. When I was a teen or young adult (still living with her), she bought a replacement. It's an enamelled iron thing with a lid on it, I guess Dutch Oven is its actual name. I claimed the old one. Over the years, I've cooked Frito Pie, Spaghetti Pie, Ravioli Bake, stew, roast, soup and spoonbread in my mother's rice pot. It's still my mother's rice pot, and I never cook rice in anything else. Well, for awhile I tried: Gourmet Sister gave me a rice steamer. It was supposed to cook rice "perfectly every time". It made the rice soggy and was a pain in the ass to clean and after about six months, I went back to using my mother's rice pot. I'm not great at everything, but I'm finally pretty good at cooking rice.

I have no idea if anyone else puts olive oil in their rice pot and heats it before adding the rice. I don't watch cooking shows, generally, and when I go to people's homes, it's usually potluck, so things are prepared already. But my mother always heated olive oil, added rice, sauteed it awhile, then added water, a lot at first, and more gradually as the rice needed. So that is what I do, too. Except this time, I opened my cans first, and added the liquid from the can of chicken and the can of tomatoes before adding water. The recipe books said I should use broth, but I didn't. You can. I save my broth for things that NEED broth, and this doesn't, really.

While my rice was cooking, I chopped the onion and the turkey sausage (three fat bratwurst-sized things) and browned them together with bacon fat in my large iron skillet. When they were cooked, the rice was about halfway done, so I added the chicken, they oysters and their liquid, the tomatoes and the spices along with more water.

When the rice was nearly done, I added the onion and sausage and some more liquid- I rinsed the cans, rinsed the skillet, dumped that water into the pot. I turned the heat off before all the liquid was absorbed, gave the pot a few good stirs and let it sit, covered. Then I steamed some broccoli.

The four of us each had 2 servings, and there are leftovers for the boys to have lunch.
 Roughly $9.50 for the meal  divided by 6 (where is my division symbol on this keyboard??) so that's what, $1.90 per serving or so.

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