You ever have one of those days where you feel off? First off the process you are doing on the computer refuses to do what you want it to do – for two hours. Then the project you are working on gives you incorrect data even though you KNOW you are putting it in the system correctly because you have done it now fourteen times! To top it off, you try calling to check in with your daughter after school and she doesn’t answer for twenty minutes – apparently because her phone was acting “weird”. Of course within twenty minutes every horrible scenario has gone through your brain because she is 14 and her phone is physically glued to her left hand, so she should have answered immediately.
Yeah one of THOSE days. Everything eventually worked out fine with the stupid computer and the selective texting daughter. My day was rounded off with a quite productive two hour long 4-H meeting discussing the intricacies of all the county events coming up in the next few months. So a day that started off a little odd, actually turned out pretty good. It proves that sometimes one thing that’s good can turn into something else that’s awesome as well.
I love jambalaya. It’s one of my favorite cajun dishes. If you have never had it, it’s essentially like a risotto. One pot dish with rice and spices, but in this case it also includes sausage and chicken. Combining two wonderful dishes can create magical moments, I promise.
Ever heard of arancini? I hadn’t until recently. Basically, if you have leftover risotto, you can form it into balls, roll it in bread crumbs and fry them. Um, yes please! I didn’t have any risotto though, I had jambalaya instead. They are both rice dishes so why wouldn’t it work instead? See? So one thing that is great = jambalaya, is mixed with another awesome thing = fried balls, it make a totally yummy dish!
I think the cheese was the most brilliant part. Crispy outside, soft rice ball with a bit of melty gooey cheese right in the middle. I made both mozzarella and pepper jack cheese middles in case some people that had taken over my house liked spicy or not. I had half a dozen friends and family clamoring for pepper jack balls. Yeah, I couldn’t get them out of the fryer fast enough. Definitely the favorite.
Dipping something spicy like jambalaya arancini stuffed with pepper jack cheese into something cool and contrasting is a must. I made this cajun remoulade sauce with just enough heat that it compliments the balls perfectly when their hot, but after you swallow you get a slight burn on the back of your throat. Just the way I like my spice.
I love new ways to make leftovers into a new dish. Sometimes I just don’t want to heat up last night’s dinner because I mean, I JUST ate it that way. But… if I can transform it – without putting too much additional effort in of course – then I’m all for it! So now of course my brain is thinking of all the other things I can roll into a ball and deep fry. Like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, stuffing, paella…. ok, I have to get cooking!
Oh yeah, can you do a PS on a blog post? Well, I’m about to…
P.S. Thank you to Steve and Caroline for the gorgeous flowers that became such a perfect impromptu backdrop for this post, and for Chandra for being my hand model and helping me roll two dozen rice balls filled with cheese!
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 pound cajun sausage, chopped small
- 1 ½ pounds chicken meat, chopped small
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 cups long grain white rice
- 6 cups water
- 8 ounce block of cheese (pepper jack or mozzarella work well), cubed into ½ inch pieces
- Panko bread crumbs
- Oil for frying
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/8 cup yellow mustard
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon cajun seasoning
- 1 tablespoon horseradish
- 1 teaspoon pickle juice
- 1/2 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, salt, and cayenne. Stir often, cook the vegetables until they are caramelized and starting to turn brown, about 20 minutes.
- Add sausage, chicken and bay leaves stirring every couple minutes until cooked through, scraping up any bits as they become stuck to the bottom. Add the rice and stir for 2 to 3 minutes coating evenly in the oil. Add the water, stir to combine and cover. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 30 to 35 minutes, without stirring until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and take out and discard bay leaves.
- Cool jambalaya completely. Refrigerating overnight is best. Using your hands gather a golf ball sized amount of jambalaya, place a cheese cube in the middle and press firmly pressing it into a ball. Roll in panko bread crumbs. Set aside while you roll all the balls.
- Heat 2 inches of oil in a high sided pot. Fry a couple of balls at a time turning often until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels.
- Mix all remoulade ingredients together in a bowl. Chill until ready to eat. Serve as a dipping sauce for the jambalaya balls.