First let me confess that although I love both Cajun & Creole food, I was never all that fond of jambalaya. (I prefer Étouffée.) Guess that means I’d just never had a good recipe for jambalaya? So I was thrilled to find Emeril Lagasse’s Boudin with Jambalaya Grits recipe on the Food Network site.
Not only did Emeril’s recipe sound quicker than Étouffée, it sounded equally tasty. I’d never thought of making jambalaya with grits instead of rice; I do dearly love grits. And I didn’t mind skipping the roux.
So I made this recipe and we absolutely loved it, but I want to note some caveats, quibbles and modifications here.
1. First of all, it’s going to take most home cooks way more than 30 minutes to get this dish on the table. There’s a lot o’ chopping involved, but also I think there’s a problem with the instructions. If you’ve ever cooked real grits, by which I mean stoneground grits rather than instant grits, you know for darn sure they ain’t gonna cook “tender and creamy” in the 4 to 5 minutes Emeril advises.
He fails to specify “instant” grits in his recipe, but by golly that’s what he means. Shame on him, instant grits are an abomination. If you actually own a box, throw it out or feed it to the dogs. If you can’t find stoneground grits in your local grocery stores – that’s certainly a challenge here in New Mexico – then you can get them online. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.
Once you’ve got real grits, adjust your cooking time in this step to about 25 minutes.
2. Emeril calls for 1 cup veal reduction. Aw, c’mon! If you seriously want to pursue this, Epicurean.com has a recipe for veal reduction; just add 9 hours to your cooking time.
However, not having a ready supply of veal reduction doesn’t mean you should just skip it. That meaty flavor adds a lot to the finished dish, which I think would otherwise backslide into the bland register. Instead, I substituted a cup of good homemade beef stock, brought it to a boil with the milk, and dropped in 3 or 4 beef bouillon cubes. Perfect.
3. I did try poaching then pan-searing the boudin. I think this was pretty much a waste of time. Since you don’t eat the casing, why sear it? (Unless it’s because it looks so nekkid without a little browning, but do you care, really?) I got equally good results by microwaving the boudin, piercing the casing first to prevent explosions. You can deduct 15 minutes from your cooking time, and have 2 fewer pots to wash.
4. And no, I didn’t bother to make Emeril's ESSENCE “Bayou Blast” Creole Seasoning. Making it from scratch would add another 15 minutes to your prep time.
But you do need Cajun or Creole seasoning of some sort; use whatever you’ve got.
My personal favorite is Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, shown here. And I can even buy this in New Mexico.
5. And my last quibble: what’s up with the “Spoon the sauce over the sausage and serve” direction? What sauce? Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t find any sauce in that recipe. Fortunately, we didn’t miss it.
But hey, it was delicious and I’d certainly make it again, even for company. Thanks, Emeril, this one’s a keeper!