More than I could chew

I decided to tackle three of my food resolutions and (hopefully) make some good food in the process.

When I did a roll call of the contents of my freezer, I discovered kielbasa among the frozen meats. And a thorough inspection of my cupboards brought forth (among other things) Zatarain’s rice mix.

These were the two main ingredients in a tasty Real Simple recipe for jambalaya that I had made a few years ago.

In the spirit of my resolution to rely less on recipes, I winged it and cooked the jambalaya on my own. First I browned the kielbasa. Then I added the rice mix and a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes. I brought the mixture to a boil, reduced it to a simmer and put a lid on it for 25 minutes. At the end, I added some raw shrimp and heated everything through.

The result was this:

It turned out to be one of the worst dishes I have ever made! The main reason was because instead of using a jambalaya rice mix, I used a red beans and rice mix. I realized I had the wrong mix while I was browning the kielbasa but decided to move forward anyway.

The flavors in the red beans and rice mix didn’t complement the spicy kielbasa or the can of whole tomatoes that went into the dish. Instead, there was an all-out flavor war that resulted in nothing but an awful bitterness.

In making the jambalaya, I also managed to pull off a raw food hat trick: the beans, rice and shrimp weren’t fully cooked. There were a couple of things going on here. I didn’t put enough liquid in the pot to thoroughly cook the rice and beans. The liquid from the can of tomatoes would have cooked a jambalaya rice mix just fine, but the addition of the beans required extra liquid.

When it was time to add the shrimp, I didn’t think that the rice and beans looked done, but I decided to go ahead and throw in the shrimp. I thought the heat of the rice would cook the shrimp so I turned off the burner because I didn’t want the rice to burn. Wrong move. The pot needed to stay on low heat.

As bad as the jambalaya was, I couldn’t bear to throw it out because I hate wasting food. I brought it to work for lunch one day but couldn’t down more than three bites. I brought the leftovers home, fully intending to throw them out. But somehow they made it back into the fridge.

My husband ate the leftovers and told me–with a straight face– that the flavors had improved over the course of a few days.

Lessons learned:
1. I need to make sure I have the right ingredients before I start cooking.
2. I should trust my food instincts.
3. Some food cannot and should not be saved.
4. My husband is a saint.

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Filed under Food resolutions 2009, Savory, So wrong

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