Like any good regional favorite food and/or the beholder monsters of D&D, jambalaya has at least a dozen preparations which are each the one true way, and within those golden standards lie thousands of minor variations. For me, jambalaya is chicken, trinity, tomatoes, rice, and spices. This time I added kidney beans for variety, but I felt a little guilty for straying off course and decided to cook the rice in the pot to add a little authenticity back to the balance. My awesome rice cooker will understand.
The other, more unusual alteration I made to the dish was to pulse the tomatoes in the blender before adding them to the pot. I love the flavor, but I don’t like biting into tomato flesh. I was surprised to find that it really enhanced the texture of the dish, thickening the broth and keeping the rice from swelling too quickly.
My issue with jambalaya made with the rice in the pot that it’s only a brothy dish when it’s just been cooked. In the fridge overnight the rice sucks the moisture out of everything else, like Bunnicula locked in a Whole Foods overnight. The result is pasty rice and dry chicken. I think I’ll apologize to the rice cooker after all.
I’ve cooked so much creole cuisine in the past few years that more than half of my repertoire now begins with celery, bell pepper, and onion. Creole has invaded my chili recipe. So long as I have at least one member of the trinity in my fridge, I’m cursed to restock the others on my next grocery trip. I’m having the hot dogs and buns problem with my trinity. Basically the only way I can run out of all three ingredients together is if the power goes out for a couple days and I have to empty the fridge. Sure, I can use dangling ingredients in other dishes – stuffed bell peppers, chicken soup – but when I finally break out of a creole streak, the family asks for red beans and rice and the whole cycle starts over again. Of course, I love red beans and rice about the same as I love my children, so I guess I can’t complain.
Six days of leftover jambalaya, though? Next time, I’m halving the recipe.