Saturday, February 20, 2010

On the grill

- 2 bone-in chicken breasts
- 1 pound marinated shrimp, skewered
- 2 applewood-smoked-bacon-wrapped beef filets
- 1 pork chop
- spinach and mozzarella chicken sausage

We'll have chicken chicken for homemade ravioli tomorrow night, chicken for chicken salad sandwiches this week, shrimp for salads through the week, sausage to snack on with sharp cheddar, and a pork chop because WHY NOT.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Boudin With Jambalaya Grits

Most nights when we get up from the table I say, "That was good," or "I enjoyed it."

After this meal, I said, "Well, that was gross."

Jeffrey didn't find it gross but he didn't find it tasty, either.

I've had this recipe for a while. Last week when thinking about what we'd have for dinner, I went through my stash of recipes, the ones I print after watching something on the Food Network, the ones I tear out of magazines, and decided this was the week for Boudin with Jambalaya Grits. It's Mardi Gras time, right?

The recipe says it takes 30 minutes to prepare, which I knew was crazy talk. I could look at the recipe and know that all that chopping would take longer than that. It took me a full hour and a half. (I'm not fast in the kitchen and I like that; the kitchen is a place where I like to enjoy and savor and take my time.)

As I began cooking, after reading the recipe twice, a few things seemed odd.

First the ingredients, nothing too bizarre here:

2 pounds fresh boudin sausage links
Water, to cover
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 ounces small diced chicken
Is that chicken cooked or raw? What would you think? Is it a small chicken diced? Joking; I know that means small-diced chicken but it should be punctuated like that. It's more clear! Then again, would you dice raw chicken meat? I can't say I ever have.
Essence, recipe follows
Oh, please. I used our cajun spice mix.
4 ounces small diced andouille or smoked sausage
4 ounces small diced ham
5 cups milk
1 cup veal reduction
Veal reduction? Seriously? Funny. My neighborhood store doesn't carry that.
2 cups grits
1 cup grated white cheddar (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the boudin sausage and poach for 4 to 5 minutes or until the sausages are firm. (Gross! Boiling boudin. Ugh. I know lots of places in Louisiana do it but that sounds - and was indeed - gross.) Drain and set aside.

In medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, peppers and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted. Add the garlic and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Season the chicken with Essence. Add the chicken and saute to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. (So the chicken was supposed to be raw? I poached a bone-in chicken breast instead.) Add the sausage and ham and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add the milk and veal reduction (or chicken stock for us poor folk who live in the country) and bring the liquid to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and stir in the grits. (What? In the pan with the sauteed vegetables, the sausage, and the chicken? Really? Good thing I used the big saute pan even though the recipe says to use a medium saucepan.) Stir for 30 seconds, then add the cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Cook, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the grits are tender and creamy. (Four or five minutes. Are these instant grits? Because I don't have those in my house. We used stone-ground grits from Charleston, South Carolina, the way they should be. Cook for five minutes??) Stir in the green onions. In a saute pan, heat the remaining oil. Pan sear the boudin sausage (Thank goodness. Images of that boiled boudin for 2 minutes on each side.

To serve, mound the grits in the center of each plate. Lay two links of sausage on top of the grits. Spoon the sauce over the sausage and serve.

For all I know, instant grits would have been good in this recipe. When I've cooked with stone-ground grits before they were creamy and rich and the resulting dish reminded me of the best risotto. This? Not so much. Not at all.

I stirred the mixture and frowned at it. Jeffrey asked what I thought about it. I told him it looked like a big ole pan o'gruel; the opposite of appetizing.

The dish had little flavor. It needed lots of seasoning that the recipe didn't call for. I added more than what it said and it was still very bland. Tasteless.

If I were going to make this again, and I don't think I will, but if I was - I'd do the vegetables and meats as the recipe says with the exception of not boiling the boudin. Gah. I'd cook some rice and stir the vegetable-sausage ham mixture into the rice and serve, with or without grilled boudin.

Overall, I thought the meal was a waste of good sausage and honey baked ham.