I’m sure all of the recipes I provide will be full of phrases that I simply cannot avoid. Some people refer to them as a verbal/writers crutch, others can simply recognize a quality catch phrase worthy of printing on a coozie. I can say for certain that “One of my favorite meals from back home is…” will make multiple appearances over my tenure on B&P. So, without further adieu and minimal French…
One of my favorite meals from back home is Jambalaya. What I enjoy the most about Jambalaya is how differently it can taste from one crazy Cajun’s house to another. I’m going to let you in on the way Big Rig’s family does Jambalaya. You’re cookin’ with Big Rig (trademark pending).
Jambalaya is a Cajun one-pot meal deriving from combined French and Spanish cultures. It consists of 3 main parts: meat/vegetables, stock, and rice. Normally the meat selection in a Jambalaya is just chicken and sausage, but clearly that’s not enough for you and it’s definitely not enough for Big Rig. We are adding pork tasso.
Now you may be asking: “Big Rig what is this pork tasso you speak of?” Great question, and this is why we get along so well. Pork tasso is a spicy, peppery version of smoked pork cut from the shoulder. The meat tends to weigh 7 to 8 pounds. When prepared to tasso it is cut into pieces about 3 inches thick then dredged in a salt cure. The meat is left to cure for 3 to 4 hours then rubbed with a spice mixture containing cayenne pepper and garlic. The meat is then smoked until cooked through. The resulting product is tasso, which again like the pistolettes is a specialty item from the cajun heartland. No fears though, I can help find some to be shipped from a meat specialty shop to you.
There are an infinite amount of ways to prepare and cook Jambalaya. The recipe I am going to give to you is quick and easy, designed by my dear Aunt Yvette. I just put in a few of my own little twists (like the tasso) in here. Big Rig always get his way.
1 case of ice cold beer
1Lb box of Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice (comes in an orange box)
1 Stick of margarine
3/4 cup of water
The trinity (2 cups of finely chopped yellow onion, 1 1/4 cup of finely chopped green bell pepper, and 1 1/4 cup of finely chopped celery)
1/4 cup of green onions chopped
1 can of Swanson’s beef broth
1 can of Campbell’s french onion soup
1 8oz can of Heinz tomato sauce
5 boneless chicken breast chopped
1 1/2 pounds of smoked andouille sausages sliced
1 1/2 pounds of smoked pork tasso chopped and sliced
First things first: grab a beer from the ice chest, pop the top and enjoy! If you’re not drinking you’re not cooking with Big Rig!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now you need your “black pot,” which is also known as a dutch oven, and the bigger the better. I have a 5 quart pot I like to use and I normally have it filled to the top. If you’re buying your first pot I would recommend you go all in and get the 7 quart guy. Lodge makes some fantastic seasoned cast iron cookware and you can find it most anywhere that sells cookware. Cooking with cast iron continues to get better and better, as the things you cook add to the flavor every time.
Things from here are very simple. You’re going to put your stick of margarine, water, the trinity, green onions, parsley, beef broth, french onion soup, tomato sauce and Uncle Ben’s converted rice all in your black pot and stir the sumbitch with a wooden spoon. Go ahead and open yourself another beer and get back to stirring. You want to get your margarine mixed in very well, until it is no longer a solid stick.
When it has been amply stirred, it’s time to add in your chopped and sliced meats. Dump it all in and get back to the stirring. If you do not have the incredible arm strength and endurance that I posses, you may need a stand in at this point for the amount of stirring that is encouraged. Once you got things all mixed up nicely, your oven should be sufficiently preheated. Put the top on your black pot and stick her right in the oven.
Let it cook for 1.5 hours, but you have to stir it every 30 minutes are so moving the rice from the bottom to the top. I recommend setting an egg timer for 30 minutes and sitting back and drinking some more beer.
When the timer goes off for the first time: get off your ass and take the pot out of the oven and stir it up. It will still be watery at this point. Put the top back on, take it back to the oven, set the timer again for 30, sit down and drink some more beer.
When the timer goes off for the second time you’re 2/3’s of the way done. Give her another good stirring. Your jambalaya will have started to thicken up by now. Set the timer for the last 30 minutes, relax, and get sauced some more. I don’t recommend driving after preparing any of my recipes.
When your timer goes off the last time take your pot out of the oven. Remove the top and stir gently. Allow the finished product to sit for around 10 minutes to cool and congeal.
Serve in a bowl or on a plate with an ice cold beer and enjoy! “Dress in style and go hog wild me oh my oh, Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou!” THAT’s cooking with Big Rig!