Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week 33 - Cajun

The theme for Week 33 was Cajun, and when it was announced, I immediately wrote down "jambalaya" on my meal planning list. There were lots of options for Cajun food, but I went instantly to jambalaya. I based my version on this Emeril recipe for Cajun jambalaya, figuring that if it came from Emeril in this arena, it was likely solid.

This jambalaya is one of the more expensive challenge meals we've done. The ingredients we used were:

- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced ($1.50)
- 1 lb of medium sized shrimp, peeled, deveined, chopped ($9.99)
- Emeril's essence seasoning, a few tbsp ($0.20) *
- 2 tbsp olive oil ($0.40)
- 1 onion, chopped ($0.50)
- 1/2 large green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup) ($0.50)
- about 1/2 cup chopped celery ($0.30)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped ($0.10)
- 1 can diced tomatoes ($0.75)
- 3 bay leaves ($0.20)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.05) **
- 1 cup brown rice ($0.50)
- about 3 cups of water ($0)
- 2 spoonfuls of chicken bouillon ($0.50)
- 1/2 lb smoked andouille sausage ($4.60)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)

* A had put this together back when he made Emeril's recipe for shrimp and grits, and we still had some leftover. Cost of the portion here is pure estimation.
** There was also supposed to be about the same amount of hot sauce, but apparently our Cholula was really old. It did not taste good, so it's a good thing I tested it before just adding it.

The total for this meal was approximately $20.14. (I should have calculated it right after I made it, since now I'm writing this post a few weeks late and I'm not 100% sure on the amounts I used.) Not our most expensive challenge dinner ever (so far, I think it's this one), but definitely up there.

The steps for making the jambalaya were pretty straightforward, but prep did take some time. The steps were:

1. Prep proteins - remove tails and chop shrimp. Chop chicken. Combine shrimp and chicken in bowl with the essence seasoning, and work seasoning in well. Allow to sit while preparing everything else. Chop sausage (or do it later while cooking since it's one of the last things to be added).

2. Prep vegetables - chop onion, green pepper, celery (I skipped this since I had pre-chopped celery from the freezer), garlic.

3. Add olive oil to large saucepan, and then add onion, green pepper, and celery. Saute for a few minutes, and then add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce (and hot sauce if you're not us).

4. Over medium heat, add rice, water, and chicken bouillon. Cook until rice absorbs all the liquid and is ready to eat. I don't remember how long that took.

5. Add shrimp, chicken, and sausage. Cook until meat is done. I think this took about 10 minutes like the recipe said, but didn't really count the minutes (and don't really remember).

6. Season with salt, pepper, and more essence seasoning.

The jambalaya turned out really well, so I kind of wish I remembered more about exactly what I did. (This is why I should at least write down some notes after I make something!) It was a nice, hearty, flavorful one-pot meal with a nice kick to it. But as tasty as it was, it was really expensive, and we don't really like spending that much on a single dinner. We might make this again, but it's not going to be part of our regular rotation.

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