It was James's turn for CIA Night last night. He'd chosen to make Jambalaya, always a crowd pleaser. I promise, he didn't really use the green spoon for tasting--only for stirring.
Unfortunately, I've never been to Louisiana. Most of what I know about the Cajun culture has come from my long-distance love affairs with Queen Ida, Buckwheat Zydeco, and Donna the Buffalo. The rest has come from eating at restaurants in Manhattan. Many years ago at Harglow's (now closed), I tried Jambalaya for the first time. Love at first spoonful--slow-cooked rice with tomatoes, onions, and peppers, studded with tender morsels of shellfish and andouille sausage--what could be better on a cold January night?
We used the Cook's Illustrated recipe, but modified it quite a bit. For one thing, we added small red beans, because Red Beans & Rice is my second favorite Cajun dish, so why not combine the two? I'm sure it was very up the bayou of me, but it was delicious. Just so you know, Applegate Farms makes a kickin' Chicken and Turkey Andouille--highly recommended.
One of the many terrific things about James is his gift for mimicry. We all adore Luis, the child prodigy chef featured on the Noggin channel. Luis was born in Guatemala but lives in Australia; he can't be more than six or seven years old, but he's a brilliant and enthusiastic cook. James does a perfect impression of Luis's endearing accent, and assumes his persona ad libitum whenever he's in the kitchen.
The Jambalaya turned out great. A bonus is that Jambalaya, like so many other slow-cooked dishes, is always better the next day--and we have plenty left over for dinner tonight!
* Tonnerre mes chiens = literally, thunder my dogs, or Holy Cow!