Jambalaya on the Grill

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I do all my cooking – and dishes – outside now. It’s kind of like camping, with real beds.

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The grill is my new BFF. Really, it’s amazing what you can do on it. I’m wondering if I even need a stove. I’m getting so used to cooking in my back yard that I might not want to go back into my kitchen even if it does miraculously get finished. This morning I made jambalaya on it.

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I came across this recipe called “camping jambalaya” – I don’t know what kind of crazy camping cooks are out there, but I’m not this ambitious when I’m cooking over a campfire and sleeping in a tent. To me, camping is an excuse to eat hot dogs and Cheezies. I’m pretty sure you won’t find me mincing garlic at a campsite any time soon. However. You can grill the meat bits (sausage, chicken and shrimp) on the barbecue, and the rest of the bits in your cast iron skillet on the barbecue, then simmer the lot together with rice and tomatoes and stock and turn out a pretty decent meal without heating up the house, or while you have a gaping chasm where your kitchen used to be.

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(This is noticeably lacking chicken – only because when I went to get the thighs from the freezer, the frostbitten bag wasn’t actually chicken thighs. I need to learn to label my freezer packages. The jambalaya was still delicious.)

Jambalaya on the Grill

Adapted from Brad’s Campsite Jambalaya in Bon Appétit.

canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 lb. garlic or farmers’ sausage
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 pint cherry tomatoes, some halved, some whole (or a couple of diced tomatoes)
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 tsp. each garlic powder, oregano and paprika
a few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro

Preheat the grill to medium-high and set a large, heavy cast iron skillet directly on grate. Place the chicken thighs and sausage on the grill alongside it and cook, turning, until charred and cooked through. Remove to a wood cutting board and when it’s cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, add a drizzle of oil to the skillet, and when it’s hot add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute, then stir in the tomatoes, scraping up browned bits. Mix in the rice, spices, thyme and bay leaves. Add the stock; season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Move the pan to a cooler spot (or reduce the heat), cover with foil, and simmer until almost all the liquid is absorbed, 20–30 minutes.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper; quickly cook on the hot grill, then mix into the rice along with the chicken and sausage. Toss to combine and top with parsley.

Serves 6.

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July 22 2014 | on the grill and one dish | 7 Comments »

Kitchen Mission – Bare Bones

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I realize DIY is the norm for most people – regular civilians are out there building their own decks and patching their own roofs – but we’re not as handy as we aspire to be. Even my parents are super handy in comparison, and designed and built their own house when they were ten years younger than we are. We are not those people. We’ve been staring at those chunks of missing drywall, wondering who we can call to come be our handywingman while we try to patch it up even enough to be flat, not pretty. Too bad they can’t be patched with dough or sheets of gingerbread.

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Knowing that everything had to go – we’re starting again from scratch – we began with the oven, since it was the catalyst that brought the kitchen down in the first place. I’ve known this was coming for years – I’ve stopped cleaning the oven, thinking we’re going to buy one any minute, and it has burst into flames more than once in rebuttal. About every six months we halfheartedly go oven shopping, and had narrowed our favourite stores down to a couple. (It’s easier to narrow down stores than actual ovens.)

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Now that our trusty old GE electric oven is halfway to the back alley, we have no choice but to find a new one. I’m not exaggerating when I say I take this more seriously than choosing a new car. Which is why it has taken so many years to get to this point – home renos and procrastination do not make good bedfellows.

There are plenty of things to consider – gas? Electric? Convection? Induction? I’ll report back soon.

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July 20 2014 | leftovers | 6 Comments »

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