One Pot Jambalaya

I made some Tasso ham the other day and set aside a cup of the cubes for this recipe. I also cheated and used a seasoning blend so I didn’t have to chop the onion, celery and bell pepper. I just used two generous cups of the frozen veggies to speed things up. And if you already have a favorite Cajun/Creole Seasoning, use a tablespoon of it to season the chicken. Here is my recipe for a batch to keep on hand.

Everything, including the rice is cooked in the jambalaya making this the perfect one pot meal. Because the Cajuns who developed this meal were a thrifty bunch, this meal stretches with your budget – have shrimp? Toss a handful or two in at the end when returning the chicken to the pot. Only have squirrel or rabbit? Use it in place of the chicken. Vegetarian? Leave out the meats altogether, swap vegetable stock for chicken stock and add red beans to cook with the rice. My version has chicken, ham and sausage so 2 chicken breasts, 1 cup of diced ham and 1 link of sausage add plenty of protein to serve four people while not breaking the bank.

This is a pretty quick recipe and in about an hour you’ll be eating a deliciously, hearty dish that has so many layers of flavors. Fix your plate and we’ll have big fun on the bayou!

One Pot Jambalaya

1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup diced Tasso Ham
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 cup long-grain rice
3 bay leaves
3 cups chicken stock
1 link andouille sausage, cut into ¼ inch coins

In a small bowl, stir together paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, basil, cayenne and salt and pepper. Or, a tablespoon of already prepared Creole/Cajun seasoning. Place the chicken into a medium bowl and toss in the spice mixture until completely coated with the seasoning.

In a large, Dutch oven, heat half of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and any extra seasoning from the tossing and sauté until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the rest of the olive oil to the same pot, along with the onion, bell pepper, and celery; sauté about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and rice, stirring to coat well. Cook about 2 minutes or until every grain of rice is glistening. Add bay leaves, Tasso ham and chicken stock. Stir well to combine. Bring mixture to a boil then turn the temperature down to just hold a simmer. Cover.

Cook until rice is just tender, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in chicken and andouille sausage. Cook about 10 minutes more with the lid off. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and/or pepper, if needed. Serve.


Tasso Ham Steaks

My sister and her husband came to my place for a weekend of Mardi Gras Carnival parades. When they do this, they usually bring a cooler full of beer and another full of food like two dozen eggs, pork chops, ribeye steaks, plus pounds of cheese, mushrooms, bacon and sausage. Her husband normally makes a big breakfast to fuel everyone for the day and I cook the afternoon/evening meal (as my toleration for crowds is so low I end up leaving early or skipping entirely many parades). This year, we got so busy we didn’t use the ham steaks, so I happily turned them into Tasso ham.

By using ham steaks, I eliminated the need to cure a pork shoulder for three days. Instead, I used the seasoning to coat the already cured ham steaks overnight before smoking low and slow. The result makes a tasty addition to soups, stews and gumbos.

Highly flavorful and I can’t wait to make jambalaya this weekend! To make it easier to add, I store the ham in ziptop bags in one cup amounts in the freezer.

Tasso Ham Steaks

2 – 1/2 inch thick slices of ham steak (about 1.5 lbs each)
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Mix the seasoning together well. Rub the seasoning into the sliced meat. Place the steaks on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove the seasoned ham steaks from the fridge, unwrap them and place on a wire rack. Leave to dry on the counter for at least an hour before preparing the smoker. Set the smoker for a low and slow heat – instead of the usual 200 degree, go lower to 175 degrees. I achieve this in my Weber grill by only filling half the chimney starter and placing the lit charcoal over a horseshoe shaped single layer of unlit briquettes. I used hickory chunks for the smoke.

Place the steaks on the other side of the grill from the coals and smoke for 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the steaks reaches 150 degrees F. Cool completely and cut into cubes. Store in airtight bags in the freezer until ready to use.

I used one cup of Tasso ham in making my one pot jambalaya – see recipe here.

Beefy Corn and Black Bean Chili

We’ve had the first week of sustained 60 degree days, so I decided that I needed to put on a pot of chili to warm the cockles of my heart. Because I’m using canned beans, jarred tomato sauce, frozen corn, etc it doesn’t need to simmer for hours on the stove. In about thirty minutes, you can have a delicious chili with a southwest flavor on your table.

I usually eat this chili with corn tortilla chips instead of the saltines I choose when eating my Chili con Carne. Other toppings you can bring to the table include sour cream, cheddar cheese and slices of jalapeños, if you want some heat.

Such delicious comfort food and so pretty, too!

Beefy Corn and Black Bean Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can (15-1/2 ounces) black beans, drained
2 cups frozen corn
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 cup beer (or water)

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add in the ground beef and brown. Once the meat is browned, siphon off the fat. Add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add in the rest of the seasonings and stir to bloom their flavor.

Stir in beans, corn, tomato sauce and Ro-tel. Pour in beer (or water) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasonings and serve.

Slow Cooker Tikka Masala Chicken and Rice

I’ve been working on recovery from Hurricane Ida and wanted something easy but delicious for dinner with friends on a weeknight. I have a jar of Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala simmer sauce and I decided to use the method of one of my favorite chicken and rice meals from when I was a kid, updated and with a subcontinental flavor.

A great casserole for my working mom was to put rice and water in a baking dish in the morning. She’d top that with a can of condensed soup (cream of mushroom, cream of celery, cream of broccoli, etc), chicken breasts and maybe some frozen veggies and/or cheese. Covered tightly and refrigerated while we were at school and they went to work. Whoever was home first was responsible for putting it in a 350 degree F oven an hour before dinner time.

Transferring it to a slow cooker meant it needed to get a head start so I used boiling water. To not dilute the sauce, I waited and added the tikka masala sauce after at least 90 minutes of cooking.

The overnight marinade makes the chicken tender and moist. All the flavors of the marinade and tikka masala simmer sauce coming together will make your mouth happy. Using strips of naan to pick up chicken and rice sure beats using a fork and it is a very tasty way to get deliciousness in every bite.

Slow Cooker Tikka Masala Chicken and Rice

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken – breasts or thighs
½ cup yogurt
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ginger, grated
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons garam masala (optional)
1 cup jasmine rice
1 12.5 ounce jar of Tikka Masala sauce

Cut chicken into inch size pieces.

In a bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, ginger, salt and garam masala, if using. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat evenly. Place in a zip top bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Mix together rice with 2 cups of boiling water in the slow cooker. Place the chicken into slow cooker and cover and cook on low for 1 1/2 hours. The rice should have absorbed most of the water by then, if not let cook for 30 minutes more or until rice is soft and chicken is fully cooked. Pour the jar of Tikka Masala sauce over the chicken and stir to mix well. Cook for thirty minutes more for the flavors to come together.

Serve with naan flatbread.

Smoking Beef Ribs on the Grill

I picked up a 3lb vacuum pack of beef riblets because I wanted beef but not a steak. I also didn’t want to have to wait as long as something like a brisket or shoulder would take to smoke.

I started with the rub. I wanted one with no sugar as that doesn’t taste as good on beef as it does on pork. For brisket, I usually use a dalmatian rub of equal parts salt and black pepper but I wanted to put some additional flavor on the ribs. Once I put together granulated garlic and onion and some paprika, it needed a little something morish, so I added dry mustard. Excellent! You could put in some cayenne but the ribs I’m using are thin and I don’t want too much heat.

I cooked them in my Weber kettle grill over indirect with chunks of hickory wood for the smoke. Remember to give yourself plenty of time – smoking time on the grill was three hours but you need to add another hour of rest.

Definitely use a meat thermometer to check the internal temp but you know they’re getting near done when the meat has pulled away from the ends of the bone.

This is what you’re looking for – nice color, they crack a little at the bend and there is at least a finger width of bone showing. If you’ll be patient for just a little longer, you’ll have tender, juicy meat with a lovely flavor from the rub and the smoke.

After the long rest, they were very good and toothsome! Luckily no one else was around to see me eat the whole thing.

Smoking Beef Ribs on the Grill

¼ cup kosher salt 
¼ cup black pepper 
1 tablespoons garlic powder 
1 tablespoons onion powder 
1 tablespoons paprika 
1 tablespoon dry mustard

3 lb rack of beef ribs

Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Rinse the meat and pat dry. Remove the silver skin from the ribs. Loosen with a dull knife and use a paper towel to pull the membrane off. Coat both sides of the beef with the rub and set in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Store any unused rub in an airtight container.

Remove the meat from fridge and set on counter while the grill is prepped.

Prepare the grill for indirect cooking and to last 3 hours. I do this by putting a ring of unlit coals around my Weber kettle grill, making sure all the briquettes are touching each other. I fill a chimney with charcoal and, once the coals become ashy, I spread them on two sides of the grill, layered on top of some unlit coals. This way, they light the coals beneath them and slowly ignite the rest so the grill should maintain 225-250 degrees F for at least three hours.

Put a drip pan in the center of the grill and add water to the pan. This will keep things moist while the magic happens. Place the rack of ribs bone side down in the center of the grill. Add dampened hickory chunks to the fire to smoke. Let the ribs cook until they reach an internal temperature of 200-205 degrees F. Carry over temperature will bring them to 210, which is ideal for beef ribs. Take ribs off the heat and tent with aluminum foil. Let ribs rest for at least an hour before eating. If it will be longer than an hour before eating, place the ribs in a cooler lined with towels.

You can cheat once the meat reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees and wrap them in aluminum foil or butcher’s paper and let them finish cooking in an oven at 235 degrees F. While keeping them uncovered on the grill will allow for the best bark, I totally understand using the Texas crutch (and I have done so plenty of times myself).

While I don’t tend to use bbq sauce, the time to do so is when you wrap the ribs or for the final hour of cooking. Give them a generous baste and it will allow for another layer of flavor. Try my coca-cola bbq sauce. I avoid commercial sauces as they have a lot of sugar which can burn and add a bitter taste.

Oven Baked Turkey for the Best Sandwiches

I love turkey sandwiches and these days the price of sliced from the deli is sending me home with a turkey breast to bake my own. I use a simple recipe with just a little seasoning and aromatics in a sealed pot to keep the turkey tender and moist.

Select a bone-in turkey breast that will fit in your Dutch oven with about an inch of space around the bird and sides/lid. Choose a heavy pot – I went with cast iron and a bird of 6 lbs. I did butterfly it by cracking the breastbone in order to get it to lay flat to fit.

I usually divide the sliced turkey into portions that will last me for a week of sandwiches and freeze most of the packages. This cook gave me at least 3 pint freezer bags full of slices, a smaller bag to eat from now and a 2 cup bag of shredded turkey for casseroles.

I make my sandwiches on white bread with mayo, a little salt and a sprinkle of celery seeds. Simply delicious!

Oven Baked Turkey for Sandwiches

1 5-7 lb bone in turkey breast
1 large onion
1 large lemon

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Slice the onion and place in the bottom of the pot to give the turkey a platform to rest upon. Halve the lemon and place in the cavity. Put the turkey into the pot. Fit a large piece of aluminum foil over pot, ­pressing to seal, then cover tightly with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook until turkey registers 160 degrees, about 2 ½ hours for a 6lb turkey.

Remove pot from oven and transfer turkey to carving board. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for at least 30 minutes to cool enough to handle. Pull off and discard the skin and slice the breast meat for sandwiches. Pick any remaining meat from the bones and use for things like turkey tetrazzini.

Levantine Roast Chicken

I wanted to make Chicken Shawarma sandwiches but, first, I had to roast the chicken. I made a kicked up spice mixture for the marinade with cumin, paprika, turmeric, garlic and then added Aleppo peppers for an almost fruity heat. The flavor profile owes a lot to the mom of a Lebanese friend of mine who used to feed us when I lived in Oakland, California.

After roasting the chicken, we made a meal of it. I set it over a bed of rice pilaf and served it with the onions that I used to elevate the chicken during cooking. The meat was juicy and had a lovely flavor from the overnight marinade. The onion was tender and melt in your mouth good.

After we ate our fill, Mom and I picked the leftover chicken and tossed it in the pan juices before putting it in the fridge overnight with the leftover onion. I then made a delicious Greek yogurt sauce. For lunch the next day, we enjoyed Chicken Shawarma on pita with chopped tomatoes, rewarmed hunks of the roasted chicken and onion, topped with healthy dollops of the tzatziki sauce.

Just fold and enjoy. So very delicious with an awesome mix of textures and flavors with the spiced chicken and garliky, cucumber yogurt sauce. The best of street food and you didn’t have to leave home for it.

Levantine Roast Chicken

1 – 5lb whole chicken
2 lemons, juiced
½ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (can substitute red pepper flakes)
2 large white onions

Use kitchen shears to cut the backbone off the chicken and then slice into the breastbone and crack the bird open. Remove the breast bone and cartilage. Place chicken in a zip top bag. The backbone and breast bone can be reserved in the freezer until ready to make stock.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric and Aleppo pepper together and stir well. Pour over chicken and seal bag. Massage to coat the chicken and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a large cast iron skillet in the oven. Carefully remove the skillet and place the onions (each cut horizontally into three thick rounds) on the bottom of the pan and set the chicken on top. Pour over the marinade.

Roast for about an hour or until the meat registers 165 on a meat thermometer. For the last 15 minutes, cover the top with aluminum foil if the wings or skin is getting too dark.

Remove from oven and serve over rice pilaf with each person getting a large round of onion and a ladle or two of sauce.

Here is my quick and easy tzatziki recipe:

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 cup Greek yogurt (I use FAGE Total Plain)
4 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon oilive oil

Grate cucumber into a clean dish towel and squeeze out the moisture. Place the cucumber in a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix well. Taste for seasoning.

I recommend you make 24 hours in advance so that the flavors really come together.

Leftover Brisket Beef Stroganoff

As a kid, I took a lot of comfort in the ground beef, can of cream of mushroom soup beef stroganoff that mom would make a few times a year. As good as that was, I’m going to kick it up a notch with some of the leftover beef brisket I smoked on the grill.

I use a Dalmatian rub on my brisket (equal parts salt and pepper) so I didn’t need to add either to the finished dish. Here is my method for preparing the brisket.

If you don’t have any leftover brisket, use ground beef or any stir fry type meat like flank steak or sirloin, sliced thin and pan fried in the skillet you’ll then use to sauté the mushrooms.

If you’re using egg noodles, cook them in the sauce as the added cook time deepens the flavors. However, as I’m trying to make do with what I have in the house, I’m using rice. 

The sauce is luscious and so very tasty. The brisket and stock give a big, beefy flavor to my new, favorite comfort food. We were all members of the clean plate club.

Leftover Brisket Beef Stroganoff

1 lb leftover beef brisket, cooked and roughly chopped (or a 1 lb browned ground beef)
4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef or mushroom stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
8 ounces egg noodles or 2 cups cooked rice
1 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter in a large cast iron skillet. Remove from pan and set aside.

Melt remaining butter and then sprinkle on the flour and whisk together. Cook the roux for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly. Keep the heat low to just cook away the floor taste, not to add color. Slowly whisk in the stock. Keep stirring to remove any lumps. Add in the Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add in mushrooms and noodles and cook until noodles are cooked, about ten minutes. Add in beef and stir to coat. Stir in sour cream and cook about 10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Spoon onto plates (if using rice, use it as a base layer) and sprinkle with a little paprika, if desired.

Grilled Debris Po’boy

Michelle’s local grocery store, Ramey’s, had a sale on beef chuck roasts. As I was passing through on my way back to New Orleans, we stopped in and each got one. She is going to do a classic slow-cooker pot roast but I decided to go a little different and do a combination of grilling and braising on the grill to make debris po’boys.

I can tell you the cats in my neighborhood sure came out for the delicious smells coming from the grill. The little black cat scooted when the camera came out but the noisy one stayed until I finally pulled the meat off after nearly 3 hours.

Before serving, to be super authentic, I had to dash over to a local grocery store (Zuppardo’s) which carries loaves of Leidenheimer’s French bread – the official bread of the po’boy. The bread is tender on the inside with a crunchy crust. As that specific bread is hard to get elsewhere in the country, go ahead and use French bread loaves or rolls instead.

The finished sandwich is awesome. Lots of beefy flavor and the sauce soaks into the bread, making it melt in your mouth good. I was out of tomatoes but the lettuce added a nice crunch. Dad took too long slicing the pickles and I was hungry, so I took the picture without them in it.

Debris Po-boy

3.5 lb beef chuck roast
coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups beef stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce

Generously rub salt and pepper over the chuck roast and set aside while you prepare the grill. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a pourable container and set aside.

Set the grill up for indirect cooking with a semi-circle of 14 to 20 unlit charcoal briquets as a base layer. Use a chimney starter to bring the rest of the charcoal to heat and pour over the unlit coals. Place several hickory chips on the coals to add smoke.

Sear the chuck roast on both sides for about 5 minutes per side over direct heat. Place the meat in an aluminum pan on the cool or indirect zone of the grill. Carefully pour over the beef stock mixture. It should fill the pan and mostly cover the meat.

Braise, uncovered for 1 hour. Rotate the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Continue to braise for 2 hours more. Internal temperature of the meat should be 200 degrees F.

Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes on a cutting board before shredding with your hands or two forks. Bring the sauce to a boil to reduce slightly. Remove from heat and defat the remaining sauce before returning the meat to the sauce to stay warm.

Slice French bread or rolls lengthwise, leaving a hinge on the opposite side. Spread the cut sides with mayonnaise. Place a generous amount of meat and a ladle of the sauce on one side of the loaf. To dress your po’boy, top with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes and a couple of pickle slices.

Serve with plenty of napkins.

Chili Con Carne

One of the most comforting scents of winter is the smell of chili cooking on the stove – you just know your very soul is about to get warmed up.

I usually use a food processor to speed up the prep work – chop the onions and garlic, chop the meat, chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Unfortunately, the food processor was one of things destroyed when my parent’s house flooded in Hurricane Sally, so I went the old fashioned way with a large knife and murder in my heart.

This is a good, hearty meal without much heat. The sun dried tomatoes add a lovely brightness and using the oil they were packed in to sauté the onions and meat adds another flavorful layer.

I eat mine with saltine crackers and my folks like eating theirs with flour tortillas and grated cheddar cheese. Other options include Fritos corn chips, sliced jalapeño, sliced green onions, sour cream, guacamole, diced white onion, French fried onions, etc, etc. The sky’s the limit!

Chili Con Carne

1 large white onion
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.5 lbs chuck roast, cut into hunks
1 teaspoon kosher salt
7 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
2 (14 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
1 can Ro-tel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1/2 stick cinnamon
1 cup water or beer
2 (14 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained

Drain the olive oil from the tomatoes.

Chop up the onions and garlic into a small dice and sauté in the tomato olive oil until softened and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and a little pepper.

Roughly chop the meat into bite sized pieces and sprinkle with salt. Add to the pan, cooking until slightly browned on all sides.

Chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Add to the beef with the tomatoes, Ro-tel, cinnamon stick and the water or beer.

Bring to the boil, cover, then turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the cinnamon stick and add the kidney beans and cook for 30 minutes more with the lid off.

Serve with your favorite sides/toppings.