Fun fact: in addition to Asian food, my second favorite has got to be Mexican food. In Southern California, especially Los Angeles area, you get these wonderful hole-in-the-wall restaurants that make delicious and authentic Mexican food. Sadly, when I moved to Texas-- I though I lost all hope because I fell into the bizarre world of "Tex-Mex." It is basically Americanized Mexican food or that equivalent to Del Taco or Taco Bell-- which I am not a fan of. Well, Justin found this place called El Vale near us So we went there on Friday night-- since Justin and Luke came back to town! It was freakishly awesome. I had their special of "shrimp cocktail," shrimp gordita (OMG! Hands down one of the best things ever), and a chicken torta...yummy!
Remember when I mentioned that I am not a spur of the moment type of cook but sometimes I have those rare and far between moments? Well this recipe is one of those moments. I had some random groceries left over- and since I have not headed to the market yet- I though- hmmm what could I make? I Google-ed the ingredients I had on hand to see what came up-- which was nothing really. But while scrolling through recipes-- I stumbled upon Jambalaya. And if you also remember the hubby is from Louisiana-- so that recipe caught my eye-- because I know he enjoys the dish. And although I did not have those ingredients on hand- it did inspire this dish. Although it was meant to come out like a Cajun Jambalaya- and this is going to sound weird-- it came out as if pizza was in jambalaya form. I know odd- but that is exactly what it tasted like! And it was good! And the best part- it was easy and quick!
1 c. uncooked rice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. garlic (optional)
1 c. onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
4 Italian sausage links*
1 (14.25) oz can of diced tomatoes, drained or 1 tomato, diced
1 c. chicken or vegetable broth**
2 tbsp. Tony Chachere Cajun Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
Corn Starch + Water (if sauce needs to be thickened)***
* Before beginning to cook: cut sausage into medallions and then roll into little meatballs.
** If you do not have broth on hand- you can use water (just make sure to add salt and more seasoning)
*** An interesting cooking fact I used: Whenever you have sauces that need to be thickened just a tad- I knew to use corn starch. However, when I added corn starch to the sauce- I would get these lumps of corn starch, which was gross- because it did not dissolve. This is what you want to do- in a small Tupperware container add 1 tsbp. of corn starch to 1-2 tbsp. of water and shake vigorously. The corn starch should dissolve. Add this slurry to your sauce- and stir well- no corn starch lumps :) If you need to to thicken more- repeat!
In a rice cooker- combine 1 c. of uncooked rice-- my favorite are Jasmine or Basmati rice-- and 2 c. of water. Set rice cooker to cook.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot- add garlic, onion and bell pepper--saute until garlic and onion is golden brown, and the bell pepper is tender-a bout 3-5 minutes. Then reduce to medium heat and add Italian sausage meatballs--cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the sausage has browned on the outside. Next add tomatoes and chicken broth and increase to medium-high heat. Bring sauce to boil- and then reduce to low heat. Add Tony Chachere, salt and pepper and stir well. If needed- add corn starch slurry to thicken sauce. Allow sauce to simmer for 7-10 minutes on lowest heat setting to thicken. Allow to cool slightly for 5 minutes.
In a bowl combine cooked rice and sauce-- mix thoroughly to incorporate the sauce into the rice and serve!