I adapted my recipe from my mom’s spaghetti sauce recipe. Actually, she said get got it from a friend when she worked at a bank in St. Paul.
Growing up, my mom would make this recipe maybe once a year because it was time consuming. I’ve streamlined the process for my lasagna. Not having to make meatballs shaves some serious time.
For the past three years, I’ve been selling these lasagnas to fund our mission trips to Honduras. People are now starting to come to my door for one. I always have these delights in my freezer for customers. After all these years, I’m still my biggest customer. I eat this lasagna with great regularity.
The lasagnas inspired us to start a small catering business. We haven’t built a site yet, but are on Facebook. The hope is to generate enough money year round to help fund my trips with Mercy Chefs.
Every Easter, we end up with a couple of dozen boiled eggs. Boiled eggs are great, but what else can you do? You can always make deviled eggs. I wanted a simple sandwich today, so I made egg salad.
I have never made egg salad before, but there’s nothing to it. Eggs, mayo, mustard, etc. I did not use any recipes for inspiration for this endeavor. Fortunately, I had the forethought to write it down. DO NOT skip the smoked sausage. The sausage really brings out the egg flavor. And the sausage flavor.
Note: I have not received any promotional consideration for any of the above products. These are products I prefer. I certainly won’t shill a product I don’t believe in.
Cut sausage link in half and throw in a skillet to heat up. While the sausage is sizzling, chop boiled eggs and place into a bowl. Mince peperoncini and add to the eggs. Dump in paprika, cajun seasoning, garlic powder, mayonnaise, and mustard.
Once the sausage is good and sizzly, take one half of the sausage and half it again. Then, chop those two quarters and throw the pieces into the egg mixture. The other half sausage link makes a great snack while you are making egg salad. Or you can give it to the kids since they probably won’t be eating any egg salad.
Mix the ingredients together and throw on some bread. Enjoy.
I would really appreciate any feedback when you try this recipe. It’s a work in progress. I may cut back on the cajun seasoning because of the salt content, but my wife said it was perfect. I also think it may do well with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, but that is for another culinary adventure.
It’s been six months since I have been to Texas for BBQ. Granted, the Texas State Line is only a few miles from Shreveport, but in order to obtain the good stuff, you usually have to drive awhile.
I can’t explain why I love good BBQ, but I use Texas Monthly’s Top 50 as my roadmap. I’m only at number seven. I have forty-three more joints to visit before the new list is released. The list just came out last spring and it is released every five years. It’s going to be tight, but I like a good challenge.
Today’s journey was relatively short. Bob’s Bar-B-Que is in Henderson, TX. It’s only a ninety minute drive to get there.
Let’s start with the potato salad. I don’t know if it is produced in house or not, but I’m betting it’s store bought. It’s nice and tangy, but so is Kroger’s. Besides, I didn’t drag Alli, my oldest daughter, to eat potato salad.
I expect a good smokehouse to have some good beans. I happen to love Ranch Style Beans, so I was in luck. However, I can get beans from a can at home. Punching it up with a little meat and barbecue sauce does not constitute homemade. Points lost for the attempted canned bean fake out.
Enough of the sides. Let’s talk turkey. Or brisket in this case. I like to research my restaurants so I know what to expect. TMBBQ has solid advise for this joint. If you don’t want to lose the crust, you have to specifically request the fatty brisket with the crust. If you don’t, the flavor will get chopped away and sent to BBQ limbo. Seriously. I don’t know where they put the flavor after they chop it off the meat. There certainly aren’t any burnt ends in the beans. If you think it’s weird to discard the culinary meaning of life, you’re not alone. It appears that northeast Texas (and north Louisiana for that manner) fear flavor. The food in this area is a bit bland. Not Minnesota bland, but food around here is usually only a notch above truck stop fare.
Anyway, the crust had a nice flavor and the fatty brisket was plenty juicy. I had a slice of regular brisket and it was like swallowing sawdust. You know, good food. If you travel, you know that good food in one place is synonymous with yucky food elsewhere.
The hot link wasn’t fire engine red like I’m used to. It looked and had the consistency of a normal sausage. And it wasn’t hot. My guess is Bob heated up some Earl Campbell (I hope he’s not using that microwave) from Piggly Wiggly. It was good, but I’ve had better.
I’m not sorry I forgot to take a picture of the peach cobbler. Cobbler is never very photogenic. I have read that this is homemade. I enjoyed it, but somebody went crazy with the cloves. I go by this rule of thumb: spices are flavor enhancers, not main ingredients.
All in all, I had a great time with my daughter. It was a very nice lunch. Texas Monthly was generous by awarding a 4/5. It topped out at 3.0/5.0, but it is good enough for a lunchtime jaunt.
I can’t say I’m a black bean aficionado as I rarely eat them, but I have been craving them lately. Actually, this isn’t my first attempt at black beans. In 2012, I made them in Haiti at Nehemiah Vision Ministries. I spent two weeks there preparing mostly comfort food for Americans on mission.
We are still working our debt snowball. Dave Ramsey inspired us to eat lots of rice and beans. And beans and rice.
This is the first time I have made black beans in my home. In my dutch oven. I love that pot. Anyway, I thought I’d start taking down the recipe before I forgot what I did.
(Note: I just eyeballed the spices. As always, season to your own taste. Too bad I didn’t have any serranos or I would have minced a couple. Plus, I have to keep it mild enough for my kids’ wuss palates).
Soak beans overnight. Change water periodically.
Split andouille in half lengthwise, then split those two halves in half. Chop the four lengths of sausage.
Toss sausage into pot to brown. I know you are going to think I’m some nut carrying on about the Maillard reaction. I guess I am.
Time to add the seasoning blend. Normally, I would chop onions, peppers, and celery myself, but when my joints are causing issues I try to stay off of my feet. Pictsweet came to the rescue. I almost forgot the garlic. Never forget the garlic.
Saute until onions are translucent.
Drain and rinse beans. Add to pot. Be sure to add bay leaves, cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, paprika, chicken base and Hatch chile powder. I order my chile powder from New Mexico. If you want to rock the McCormick, be my guest.
Fill pot with water and simmer approximately 90 minutes while occasionally stirring.
(I’m a self admitted hack, but I have not received any promotional consideration. If I ever become a professional hack where companies want me to shill their products, you’ll be the first to know).
I’ve been a fan of spicy cajun food my entire adult life. I began teaching myself to cook sixteen years ago and have enjoyed trying to make cajun dishes that were palatable. It is no coincidence that I started my cooking journey a week after I met my wife.
I’m sure it’s a typical story. I met Heather 12/11/2007. The following weekend she invited me over for dinner. Man, was I stoked! I love food. I can’t believe I met a woman who could cook.
I showed up for dinner at the appointed time and was surprised that we were eating Hamburger Helper. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with Hamburger Helper, but on a first meal at home you put your best foot forward. That night I decided that I was going to learn how to cook. The following weekend I began my foray.
That first meal was one I made one or two times prior. We had spaghetti with homemade sauce. It was quite tasty as I watched a friend make it numerous times. This friend was a good cook, but he never let me get any hands on experience. I watched him intently for two years as I was surfing his couch.
When I first started cooking, say the first five years, not all meals were as tasty as that spaghetti. I worked until midnight and the first year or two, I would go to Albertsons after work and make pot roast, pork chops, even chicken fried steak. I’d normally eat around four am and it was common for me to crank out some meal complete with mashed potatoes and gravy. Many of these meals were disappointments, and occasionally were downright inedible. Today, I rarely make something that embarrasses me to feed to my dogs. If I get distracted the dogs may have some awful treat to enjoy.
My culinary skills have vastly improved over the past three years. I have many friends who are professional chefs and they are always happy to give me cooking tips. I like to tell people that I’m finally becoming an adequate cook.
Today, I had to make jambalaya for a catering event. I’ve made it before, but I haven’t been happy with previous efforts. There is money on the line here so I have to make sure it is acceptable.
I looked through recipes and decided I could adapt this one. I made several changes and I hope you are happy with this endeavor. I hope you try it and tell me what you think.
I just remembered that I forgot bay leaves. I intended to add maybe seven to the pot. Remember that this recipe is for 50. You can use some fancy math like division to reduce the amount. I’d do it for you except I’m lazy.
Here’s the ingredient list:
5 pounds pork loin
15 pounds bone in chicken thighs (after deboning you will have around ten pounds of meat)
5 pounds sausage
3/4 pound bacon
2 large onions
3 bell peppers
1 bunch celery
3 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons white pepper
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp chili powder (I used New Mexico Hatch chili powder I ordered online)
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp dry thyme
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
10 cups rice
21 cups water
6-8 ounces chicken base
Add all dry ingredients in a bowl to add later.
Trim pork loin and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Marinate in soy sauce, mustard powder, and white pepper. I didn’t use a lot of any of these ingredients, just enough to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for two hours.
Place chicken thighs on baking sheets. Cover liberally with Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning. Roast at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.
Remove chicken from oven and let cool. Meanwhile, chop vegetables. Since you have the knife out, chop smoked sausage into 1/4″ rounds.
Down Home is one of my favorite sausages. They manufacture it in Stonewall, LA, which is maybe fifteen minutes from where I live. I couldn’t find a website for the company, but I included a link to a radio station I used to work at where they give the down low on the Down Home. No, I have not received any plugola. If they gave me free sausage, there would be plugola, but I would tell you about it. Somehow, I don’t think it’s plugola unless it’s a secret, though.
Last thing to cut up is to cut up the bacon. Cut that into small pieces. Once cut, toss the bacon into a heated pot to render. Once partially rendered, throw in the marinated pork loin. After it is browned it is time to put the sausage in.
I was watching some cooking show a couple of years ago where this old man was cooking a monster pot of jambalaya outside. He kept saying that you want to cook the sausage so it is scabbed up. He’s right, you want scabby sausage. I was unable to do it this time because of the sheer volume, but when I have a manageable batch, I cook the sausage so it is nice and scabby.
Before you blow scabby chunks, let me explain. This old cajun may or may not have gotten all technical on us, but he was describing the maillard reaction. Chemistry stuff happens to the meat when you brown it. Think of a really nice crust on a steak. That crust is the scab this old coot was describing.
When you have a scabbed up pot of sausage, you want to add the vegetables and saute until soft and the onion is translucent. I wait until this moment to add the chicken. Remember that chicken? Well, we forgot to debone it. So, before you burn up a pot of meat, be sure to have deboned the chicken prior to firing up the stove. After it’s deboned, I spread it back onto a baking sheet, apply some more Tony Cachere’s, and let it crisp up some at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Now that we are back on track, don’t add the chicken until the vegetables are sauteed. This way, you can avoid tearing up the meat from over stirring and whatnot.
This is the moment to add your dry spices and Worcestershire sauce.
I add the base to the water and stir until well mixed. Then it’s time to add the rice and base-infused water.
Simmer the conglomeration of meat and rice for around 50 minutes while occasionally stirring. It is actually desirable to have the food stick to the bottom of the pan to get some crusty bits. Remember? Maillard reaction?
Once the water is absorbed, it’s time to eat. Enjoy.