March 25, 2004

RO·TEL & Jambalaya

I took a trip a while back to Louisiana to investigate a plane crash at the Iberia Parish airport. I flew into Lafayette and drove to New Iberia, home of Tabasco® sauce. I met up with the manager of the airport and did all the things I had to do about gathering info. He suggested lunch. I had never eaten in Louisiana, which is to say that outside of Louisiana, I would come to find out, the food just didn't seem to taste the same as it did in Louisiana. And yes, I have to laugh when I look at the menu and see Cajun Chicken Pasta with Creole sauce. I learned from the airport manager about Louisiana cooking, about the differences in Cajun and Creole, about spices and heat, when he told the cook at this little ol' restaurant to make a little bit of everything. I never heard of crawfish etouffee or half the other stuff we were served that long, lazy, filling afternoon of Deep Southern hospitality.

Here's a quick and easy Jambalaya. Go out and get a box of Zatarain's New Orleans Style Jambalaya Mix and follow the instructions on the box.

Although Stacey is a wimp about the flavor of certain peppers, the boys and I have acquired a taste for that sort of thing. The miracle that Teflon is, it cannot stand up to the combinations of ingredients that Jackson uses on chicken breasts or steaks that he sears on the George Foreman grill, including homemade Cajun seasoning mix ripped off with some modifications from Paul Prudhomme, Tabasco sauce, scotch bonnet peppers, and habanero peppers. The Teflon flakes off after a while -- we got him his own grill.

Anyway, I substitute a can of RO·TEL Diced Tomatoes & Chile Peppers for about half the water required by the recipe on the Zatarain's Jambalaya box. Now, depending on your level of tolerance, there are four grades of RO·TEL, those being Milder, Original, Hot, and EXTRA HOT. I need to caution you about the Hot, which is exquisitely painfully hot. It is not for beginners.

And use the Extra Hot, which is excruciatingly, painfully, lastingly, unsparingly hot, with extreme caution (and if you are Catholic, with extreme unction).

If some wise-ass claims to be able to tolerate heat, use tasso ham for the meat of choice and the Extra Hot RO·TEL. Save the last glass of whole milk for you and serve your guest good, old-fashioned, 10-ounce glass bottle of Coca-Cola.

Consider yourself warned. And enjoy the adventure!

Posted by Bill at March 25, 2004 10:54 PM