Monday, August 16, 2010

MasterChef-Jambalaya Mash-Up.

Emboldened by my success with the crab cakes, Mr. Rose immodestly requested "Jambalaya!" for dinner tonight.  Well, there's not a thing in the world I wouldn't cook for this man, including soup from a powder when he's sick, ass-kicking Thai curry when stomach isn't up to the heat, and "anything but Ecuadorian" when all I want is arroz con menestra y carne asada.  So I accommodate with gusto when he suggests something that will delight both of our palates at once (and doesn't involve me opening a package and adding boiling water).  Plus, I've never made a jambalaya before... For that matter, I wasn't sure I'd ever eaten a good, authentic jambalaya before.

So I inquired to a fellow MasterChef finalist, Max Almerico, from New Orleans.  That's him on the right.  (Oh, and the gal up front intently tugging on a bunch of greens is Azmina, my doppelganger.)
Well, Max is a real, live MF NOLA (that is, Man From New Orleans, Louisiana).  He promised to get me a recipe if I told him what kind of jambalaya I wanted to make.  What KIND???  As in there's more than one kind???  But I have shrimp and chicken and andouille sausage and produce at the ready.  I couldn't wait for a response.  I hit the Google.

Once again, Google did not disappoint.  I very quickly stumbled upon Emeril Lagasse's recipe for jambalaya.  And lucky me -- I had approximately triple the amount of shrimp, chicken, and andouille that the recipe called for.  I broke out my gigantic Mario Batali dutch oven (suck it Bastianich! my money went straight to your partner Batali!) and went to town.
I figured Emeril, one of the people who put New Orleans on the nouveau culinary map, would know how to do a jambalaya.  His recipe says it only takes 35 minutes.  Well, between actually having to prep all the ingredients, including chopping vegetables and peeling and deveining shrimp, and entertaining my brain by smattering Facebook with incensed political rants (hey, I had a recipe to work with -- I didn't need my brain to put this meal together), it was more like 2 hours and 35 minutes.
Yep, you heard me.  I didn't use my brain in the making of this meal.  But I did taste it a little.  I opted for the Blind Betty hot sauce this time, because I thought the Caribbean flair would compliment this Creole dish.  But it just lacked pizzazz.  So I went to an old standby, Sriracha sauce, or the sauce that we affectionately call "Rat Sauce" around here.  It has an impossibly simple list of ingredients considering how delicious and versatile it is.

"BAM!" as Emeril would say, "That kicked it up a notch!"  When I'm done with this blog post, I'm going to write to Mr. Lagasse and suggest that he specify Rat Sauce, at least a teaspoon full, in his jambalaya recipe. 

I don't know if what I made is what jambalaya is supposed to be, but I made a huge pot of it and sooner or later, someone in the know would taste it and tell me what's what.

Twenty minutes later, Mr. Rose finally got home from work.  He sat down to a pile of jambalaya.
I asked him if he'd ever eaten jambalaya.  "Sure, plenty of times," he said.  Oh, like when you went to Jazz Fest with your food-lovin' friends?  "Well, maybe," he responded, "but definitely, like, a dozen times at Barrington Hall (the now-condemned student co-op building were he spent his freshman year) 'cause, ya know, it's a good casserole-type thing to serve to a bunch of hungry, skinny, college kids."  Hmm.  Guess he's not going to be a good judge of jambalaya. 

He scarfed it down without much commentary, probably just like he did in college, and washed it down with a can of PBR, probably just like he did in college.

And that is probably why I will cook absolutely anything for the man.  He occasionally challenges me to cook something different, which he then eats without judgment.  He sometimes gives me feedback, hardly ever complains, but never passes judgment.  He leaves the judging to the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich.
Okay, one more gratuitous MasterChef shot, with me up front, standing in ready position (as taught by NITA), to tie it all together for you. 
In that moment, I stood there as one of the Top 24 home cooks in America.  I was really damned proud of myself.  About as proud as I was this evening, presenting my first-ever jambalaya, authentic or not, to my hungry, skinny, Mr. Rose.


  1. wow, Lipton soup from a powder is my soup of choice when I'm sick too! My mom always added an egg to it. Good choice, Mr. Rose.

  2. ??Skinny?? Mr. Rose ?

  3. OMG, you're in the Masterchef competition! How COOL was that! So, did you get to meet Mr.Hell Kitchen? haha.... I'm so proud of you. Have a nice day.
    Cheers, kristy

  4. @Kristy, it was VERY cool. Thanks for reading -- I'm looking forward to your reading your blog as well.

  5. Great post! Cooking a new recipe is kinda like driving to a new place. Always either takes longer or seems to take longer. Jambalaya is wonderful stuff. Kateiscooking


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