I needed something spicy. From-scratch but easy.
I needed Zatarain's without the box.
Which would be sacrilege to my old high school algebra teacher.
He was a big fan of the Zatarain's.
Mr. Harden somehow managed to work Zatarain's into algebraic formulas. ("Formulas" is about as complex as I get when it comes to math-speak.)
I was much more interested in New Orleans and eating cajun food off of butcher paper after he got done talking.
So, (more recently) I swiped a spice list from Emeril Lagasse's Cajun jambalaya, reworked it a bit and threw this together...
I want to call it jambalaya...but it doesn't have all that other stuff in it (shrimp, chicken, peppers), so technically, I guess I shouldn't.
Or can't? I'm not sure how technical they get Down South.
I just call it cajun.
Cajun that tastes like jambalaya.
It's simple -- sauteed onions, rice, smoked sausage, spices.
One pan of creamy rice chockful of smoked sausage, spiced up -- cajun style.
The cajun takes about one hour on the stove, but there's almost NO prep time.
No cutting bell peppers and tomatoes and celery and garlic...unless you just want to get fancy and throw those things in there.
We love it. Often and a lot.
Even the kids, despite that bit of spice in there.
It's been (a little over) 10 years since high school algrebra (alright, I'm 30.).
But I wonder if Mr. Harden is still into cajun food.
I hope so.
I hope he still tells those teenagers about spices and jambalaya and Zatarain's.
Because that made a little bit of high school more bearable.
I have to be honest, I still really hate math. (Even Sudoku, which isn't even technically math.)
But Mr. Harden remains one of my favorites.
Cajun Smoked Sausage & Rice
I include instructions on how to prep this dish with whole grain rice (brown rice). Rice varieties and even brands can vary on how much water to use and how long the rice should cook. If in doubt, follow your package instructions. If given a range on how much water to use, choose the larger amount. (For 2 cups of uncooked rice, my brown rice called for 4 to 5 cups of water -- I went with 5.)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin or regular olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 5 cups hot water
- 2 cups uncooked brown rice (not instant)
- 1 tablespoon paprika (see note on spices)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or regular salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- 14 oz. (1 pkg) smoked sausage, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Pour olive oil into a 12-inch skillet and place pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add onion and cook over medium to medium-high heat until onion is lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Carefully add hot water to pan and bring to a boil. Stir in brown rice and spices. Cover and simmer over medium-low to low heat for 25 minutes.
Stir sausage into the rice mixture, cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. If the rice has absorbed the water, is tender and the mixture is thick, it's ready. Otherwise, recover and continue to simmer until ready. Mine took a total of 1 hour cooking time.
Note on spices: I've given specific amounts of spices to use, but feel free to wing it, too. I've made this several times by using a fair amount of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and oregano, a healthy pinch of salt and pepper and several dashes of thyme and cayenne. It's tasted great every time!