Tag Archives: smoked sausage

The Jambalaya Shoppe–Gonzales, LA

One of my favorite things while traveling is hunting for great food. A chef friend told me Gonzales is jambalaya country and if you believe what the water tower says, Gonzales is the jambalaya capital of the world. I’m happy to announce that I have found some delicious jambalaya at The Jambalaya Shoppe.

My research revealed this little gem and I was pretty certain that I was in for a treat as these restaurants are popping up around south Louisiana. We opted for a bucket of chicken and sausage jambalaya and since the weather was nice, we ate at one of the two picnic tables in the parking lot.

I do have to admit that this is the second restaurant in the region I have eaten at over the past couple of days that wasn’t spicy. I love spicy food, and we don’t have many options for fire eating in Shreveport. I’ve always been told I have to go south for sinteringly hot cuisine–maybe this is reserved for New Orleans. Regardless, I happened upon a gem.

The original location is not much more than a shack–typically a good sign when you are searching for deliciousness. That standard holds true in this case. The sausage was delightfully scabbed, and the morsels of chicken were plenty. And the flavor profile? It held a subtle complexity that I will explore again this evening. I was ravenous at lunch and didn’t thoughtfully enjoy this delight, but I’ll savor it tonight.

My only complaint is that it needed heat. Naturally, I added Tabasco, but I would have appreciated more heat. Make that two complaints–we do not have a Jambalaya Shoppe here in Shreveport. I hope my second complaint is properly addressed soon.

BBQ Chronicles:  Williams BBQ–Greenwood, LA

I was passing through town when I saw Williams BBQ. I immediately pulled over to see if I couldn’t find any information online. Nothing. I decided to brave this intrepid establishment as I have a hard time passing up BBQ. I wish I had.

The owner promptly took my order–a half pound of sliced brisket and a half pound of sausage. As I was joyriding, I felt it best to eat on the road. First, the sausage. Though it was not bad, it was nothing special. Nothing but Eckrich or something similar. It was edible, though. After three or four bites, I was done with this mediocre offering. At least I was able to take it home to share.
As for the brisket, no such luck. 

Never serve up Eckrich if you want to impress.
 The nauseatingly gray meat made me think that this was the stuff during wartime–a time where food is so scarce that people resort to eating their boots. At this moment I wish I was eating pilfered boot leather.

Though the meat was sliced paper thin, it still was as tough as the aforementioned footwear. The fat wasn’t rendered which left an uneasy feeling not unlike the the unveiling of Ed Gein’s horrorfest. 

Never before have I encountered the stench of death on a plate.
 As I brought up a piece to my mouth, my nose caught something out of place. I couldn’t quite place the subtle sick fragrance of decomposition. When I took my first (and only) bite, I knew immediately the nightmare that enveloped my taste buds–it was sour. It wasn’t full-on maggoty meat, but was a subdued flavor of rottenness. I spit it out of the truck and this little delight found its way into the trash can.

The owner said they have been open for three weeks. I predict they will be out of business by Thursday.

If you want to read about real mediocre barbecue that won’t put you in the morgue, try this, this, and this.

I’m A Dashionista–Roasted Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

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I just received a check in the mail today from Mrs. Dash.  Yep, I sent in a variation of this recipe and I guess they thought it was good enough to eat.  I think I need a vanity plate that says “DSHINSTA.”  I updated this recipe so that you can enjoy it as it was submitted.  

My only wish is that I could have gotten a tiara.

Ingredients:

4 medium russet potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup mirepoix (I’m feeling puny today so I used some of the frozen variety)
1/2 pound Down Home sausage, split lengthwise, then split again and chopped
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 tomato, chopped
Olive oil
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Table Blend

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine first five ingredients.

Drizzle olive oil and toss to coat.

Season with Mrs. Dash.

Roast uncovered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.

Some Serious Baked Beans

I may be a slow learner, but this is the third time I made baked beans this week. The first batch was amazing, but I wasn’t following the recipe closely. Last night’s were a bummer, but today’s batch of beans will be a triumph.

One of my favorite treats happens to be baked beans. Most of the time I’ll punch up a can of Bush’s, but I have made baked kidney beans a couple of times.

I know, it sounds awkward like the time my dad tried to tell me about…well, you know…the birds and the bees? I was fourteen and I think he actually talked about birds and bees.

He certainly didn’t teach me anything I haven’t heard in school. The kidney beans are more enjoyable than that distant memory, but they have nothing on the traditional navy beans.

Baked pinto beans are another story, though. I always have pinto beans on hand and the skin is a little tougher than the navy beans, but their subtle flavor and creamy texture allow the mingling of sugars and pig fats to take center stage.

This recipe is similar to a recipe I found on Food Network, but I think the small alterations I made are quite enjoyable.

Ingredients

3 cups pinto beans, sorted and soaked overnight
1 onion, chopped
2 slices salt pork, chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 link smoked sausage, quartered and chopped (andouille works nicely)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Hatch chili powder
1 teaspoon Gebhardt chili powder
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chicken base
3 Mezzetta peperoncini peppers

Method

Sauté meat in a cast iron Dutch oven to render the delicious fat.

Add onions and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent. Season with black pepper and Tony Chachere’s.

Add both chili powders, tomato paste, brown sugar, molasses, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, chicken base, and peperoncini peppers.

Add beans and four cups of water to combine.

Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer on the stove for about 90 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water as needed.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the lid and place in oven for the last hour of cooking so it thickens up as only baked beans can do.

Salt to taste and enjoy by itself or maybe with some nice greens.

I dunno if you can call them baked beans with only an hour in the oven, but last night I baked them for five hours and they tasted sad and unfulfilled. Today’s beans were delicious.

Sausage Egg Salad Sandwich

The sausage really enhances the egg flavor.
The sausage really enhances the egg flavor.

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.

Ingredients:

9 boiled eggs

4 Mezzetta peperoncini

1/2 link Down Home smoked sausage

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

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.

Method:

Who can resist smoked sausage?  Not me.
Who can resist smoked sausage? Not me.

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.

My First Crack at Black Beans

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.

Ingredients

1 pound black beans

1 link andouille sausage or smoked sausage

1 bag Pictsweet Seasoning Blend

4 minced garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground Hatch chile pepper

2 tablespoons chicken base

(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).

 

Method

Soak beans overnight.  Change water periodically.

Split andouille in half lengthwise, then split those two halves in half.  Chop the four lengths of sausage.

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Sausage always tastes better when it begins to get crusty.

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.

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This picture came out lousy. My iPhone doesn’t like taking pictures as steam wafts. Actually, all of these photos look lousy. I need to get my guy to take some pics of this dish.

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.

Enjoy.

(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).

Chicken, Pork, and Sausage Jambalaya

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.

Marinating pork loin.
Marinating pork loin.

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.

Chicken cooling.  Don't forget to debone.
Chicken cooling. Don’t forget to debone.

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.

No scabs on the sausage. I’m just not awesome enough to do it with this huge batch. If I had a tilt skillet, though, I would’ve rocked the scabs.

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.

Jambalaya is ready to simmer.
Jambalaya is ready to simmer.

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?

One big, swingin' pot of jambalaya.

Once the water is absorbed, it’s time to eat.  Enjoy.