Laissez les bons temps rouler

At Kroger yesterday, I saw andouille. That’s unusual – I have seen a couple of national smoked sausage brands that tried to promote “andouille-style” or “Cajun-style” flavors in the past, but they weren’t true andouille, and you could see that as soon as you sliced into the link. Actual andouille, at least the kind with which I’m familiar, has a grain to it – speckled, with little bits of fat and meat. I’m sure there’s a term for it that I should be using. A cross-section of the “andouille-style” smoked sausage I’d seen in the past looked just like regular smoked sausage – a uniform pink color, with no bits of anything.

ragincajunBut this was labeled as andouille. It was from Georgia, not Louisiana, but I figured it was worth a try.

A few days earlier, I’d bought a slightly-punctured bag of brown rice, which I love, for only 99 cents out of the bargain bin at Kroger. I decided to try to make a jambalaya with brown rice. Traditional? Probably not. But I like brown rice, and it’s much better for me.

I sliced into the andouille and it looked pretty much like the actual Louisiana andouille I’d tried in the past.

This was a seat-of-my-pants preparation. I chopped up onion and bell pepper, sauteed them, then added a little minced garlic, the brown rice, water, some Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, a little bit of extra cayenne pepper, and some beef base (Better Than Bouillon). Chicken base would probably have been better, but I’m running lower on my jar of chicken base than I am on my jar of beef base, so I decided to use the beef base. I brought it back up to a boil and then I added the andouille, sliced on the bias into little disks. It will take longer to cook than regular jambalaya because the brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice.

It’s simmering now. My friends who are Cajun food experts will probably find fault with some part of another of this, but I’m anxious to see how it turns out.

Bean there, doing that

I have waxed prosaic in this space before about Hurst’s HamBeens 15-bean soup. I make a pot or two of the stuff every winter, dividing it up into batches, and it’s a perfect cold-weather supper.

original_bayou-cajun-red-beanAnyway, when I was at the grocery store yesterday I found a different, slightly-fancier product from the same company, Hurst Family Harvest Bayou Cajun Red Bean Soup. Much like the 15-bean soup product, it’s basically dried beans with a seasoning packet and a recipe – you add onion, garlic, andouille or smoked sausage, a can of diced tomatoes and the juice of a lemon. Although it’s labeled as “soup,” it’s clear from the directions that this is basically the “red beans” part of red beans and rice, and that’s how they suggest you serve it.

I have a pot simmering away on the stove even as we speak. I could not get good authentic andouille; I got some Johnsonville andouille, but it’s basically just Johnsonville smoked sausage with slightly-tweaked seasoning. (The few times a friend of mine has been headed to N’awlins, I’ve asked them to bring me back andouille.) Even so, even the pseudo-anduouille should be good in this. (“Pseudo-Andouille” would make a great name for a rock band, as Dave Barry would say.)

Here’s how things looked as I was sauteeing the onion, garlic and andouille. The soaked and drained beans are standing by waiting to jump into the dutch oven:

red beans

I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Laissez le bon temps rouler

I have some Zatarain’s jambalaya mix cooking right now, and the apartment smells wonderful. I make the Zatarain’s jambalaya frequently, but tonight’s will be much better. My co-worker Sadie Fowler went to visit her husband at a job site in Louisiana last weekend, and I had her bring me back some andouille sausage. I normally use normal smoked sausage, or sometimes even an “andouille-style” smoked sausage which one of the groceries here carries, but there is nothing like genuine andouille.

Plus, I made homemade chicken broth yesterday and replaced the water in the jambalaya directions with broth, for a little extra flavor. (Because the jambalaya mix contains salt, I wouldn’t want to do this with a salted broth, but I had not yet added any salt to my homemade broth.)