Spice Up Your Life – Mexican Jambalaya

It’s been a while since I’ve put a recipe up… probably because I haven’t been doing much experimentation in the kitchen. Sad, I know, but it happens. Sometimes you get into a comfortable routine, and sometimes you don’t have time or money.

Still, I decided to revisit my Mexican jambalaya recently and realized that I haven’t actually put up how to make it. I’ve put up the recipe for Mexican rice before, but not Mexican jambalaya. So, I’m going to remedy that.

Jambalaya, as you likely know, is a Cajun dish, so Mexican jambalaya is a bit… incorrect. Cajun and Mexican don’t really have the same flavor profiles or ingredients. Jambalaya uses the Cajun trinity of celery, onion and bell pepper, while Mexican doesn’t tend to go the celery route. This is a best attempt to get a fusion as close as possible. And there will be celery.

You’re going to need, for the amount I cook, a big ol’ pot and a very large pan. Or another big pot, it’s your choice. By big ol’, I mean about 5-6 quarts. You can have more if you’d like, but at least one will need a lid. I’m going to talk about this in two parts, rice and jambalaya. It’ll come together in the end. For the Mexican rice, I went with as close to a 1.5 times the ingredients of the original recipe as I could. Two times is a bit too much.

Mexican rice

Ingredients:3 tablespoons oil
1/2 of a medium onion
2 1/4 cups rice
5 cloves finely chopped garlic
3 3/4 cups beef broth (Stock works too.)
1 1/2 cup plain tomato sauce
6 heaping tablespoons of finely chopped parsley

You can replace the onion and garlic with their powder forms and add them when you add the liquid ingredients.

In the lidded pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add in the fresh onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes until it’s soft. Add the dry rice and cook it with the onions for about 5 minutes, or until rice becomes a golden brown color. Stir the rice from time to time to avoid burning it. Add in the garlic to the rice and sauté for one more minute.

Add in broth and tomato sauce (Add it slowly into the rice, not directly onto the hot pan. Try stirring it in if your rice doesn’t fully cover the bottom.) Then add in the parsley. Stir it up and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat to low and cover. Let it simmer for 20 minutes and fluff with a fork when done. Or stir it. Whichever.

Easy peasy, right? So, onto the meat and veggies part… which is less of an exact science, to be sure. I’ll try to remember what I did.

Carne picada, around a pound, pound and a half
Celery, about 4 stalks
1 Bell Pepper
1 Onion
4 Tbsp. butter
1 can Rotel (I used hot, of course)
1 can corn (not creamed, just kernels)
1 can pinto beans (you can use black if that’s your thing)
Chorizo sausage (I think mine was 12 oz, and try to get it not pre-cooked. I used andouille, the traditional Cajun sausage, the first time… it was okay, but it wasn’t as good as chorizo.)
Shredded cheese (Cheddar or Mexican blend)
Seasoned salt
Garlic powder
Chili powder
Cayenne pepper

Heat up your second pot and melt the butter in it. Chop up your bell pepper, onion and celery (try to keep them in equal amounts) and throw them into the pot with your beef and chorizo. Throw some seasoned salt on your meat if you want to. I try to season my raw meat lightly while it cooks for pretty much every dish. I use Lawry’s, by the way, it’s great. But the spices in this recipe are really up to use. You could just buy “taco seasoning,” which is what most recipes seem to suggest, but bully on that. Give it your own flair. And add cumin, there’s nothing really more Mexican in the spice rack that cumin, I’ve found. Anyway, season your meat with salt, cook all that stuff down, then add your garlic and cayenne and cumin and chili powder in at some point, if you’re using those spices. I’m not even sure I used chili powder. There’s no amounts to suggest because, well, you’ll just have to taste as you go and try to not add too much.

When all your meat is cooked and your veggies are soft, throw in the corn, beans, Rotel and cilantro. Stir them in and let them cook for a while, too. Your rice should be finished at some point during this time, especially if you didn’t chop up your veggies before hand. Stir up your rice, fluff it, get it all thoroughly mixed, then throw in your meat and veggie concoction. Mix it all thoroughly. My preferred method of serving is via a burrito. And I like the Mi Casa brand because, when I microwave them, they don’t get super dry, crunchy and impossible to roll. They actually get steamy. Which makes them hot when rolling, but whatever. Put it in a burrito, throw on your cheese and roll it up. It’s fantastic.

And it will last you such a long time.

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