Thursday, April 10, 2008


Last night I made renegade jambalaya.

I've been making the same jambalaya recipe for the better part of a decade, and I love it. LOVE it. It's Paul Prudhomme's recipe, and for a number of reasons -- it's generally part of a lot of other party prep, I've never made less than two batches, and the spice mix is so rich and textured and complicated -- I've developed a whole ritual about it. It intimidates me. It's a night of chopping, stirring, waiting, potwashing, and repeating. (And beer-drinking and a little bit of Mardi-Gras-bootyshakin', as well.)

So when looking over some of the sauces in our fridge, trying to decide what to do with some chicken, I espied a short jambalaya recipe on the side a bottle of sweet-and-sour sauce, I decided to go for it.

I already had some chopped onion, and chopped some more. Little pearl onions, actually, since the I noticed the bigger onion I had in reserve was getting funky and tossed it. I had some chopped bell pepper -- not enough, but it'll do. I chopped up the chicken, and decided I'd throw in a little of the smoked venison yachtwurst that I'd first used for red beans and rice last week.

The sweet and sour sauce seemed to think it was the only flavoring the jambalya needed, but you can't trust a bottle. (Except a bottle of gin. Gin never lies.) So I added some white and red pepper, and some chopped up ginger root. And some garlic-flavored hot sauce. Plus instead of the water it said to add, I used some leftover chicken broth, making up the difference with water.

When it came time to add the rice, the recipe just said "add the rice, sauce and water, and let simmer for 25 minutes or until rice is tender." Horsefeathers. I've got a well-honed jambalaya process that I'm not going to toss aside just because I'm using other ingredients. So the rice went in first, to crisp and brown and soak up flavor, before I added any of the liquid. So finally, the sauce and the water/broth mixture gets dumped in and I wait to see what sort of Frankenstein jambalaya I have wrought.

Twenty minutes or so later, the liquid has reduced and the jambalaya is ready. And it's sweet and tangy (a bit too sweet for me, to be honest, but then again I've never really gone for sweet and sour sauce, so what did I expect?), but it's got a nice little kick to it that I didn't notice at first.

Tasting it, I feel liberated. I can do this shit.



Ami Angelwings said...

That sounds SO TASTY!!! :O

Do you have a recipe? :D I LUFF COOKING and I also luff to collect recipes that actually work :D

Rob S. said...

I don't have a recipe per se, but I think I should be able to recreate what I did with a little more detail. And for technique, I used Paul Prudhomme's Poor Man's Jambalaya recipe (seen here at

I sauteed about 1 1/2 pounds of chopped chicken and 1/4 pound of diced smoked sausage (It could've used more) in 1/2 stick of margarine until the chicken was mostly cooked. Next I added about 1 cup chopped bell pepper and 1 1/2 cup chopped onion, as well as some chopped fresh ginger (if I had to guess, about a tbs). I sauteed that for about 5 minutes, sprinkling in generous amounts red and white pepper. No idea how much, but I wasn't shy.

Next came a cup of uncooked rice, which I stirred for 3-4 minutes. Before it got too dark, I added 1 3/4 cups of water & chicken stock, plus a cup of sweet & sour sauce. Then I brought it to a boil, then turned it down and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the liquid was pretty much gone.

The Prudhomme recipe is aces. My improvisation was pretty good.

Good luck with it!