My name is Thomas Lott. I am a proud husband and father of two. Two of my favorite things are football and cooking. I'm no expert in either, but I certainly like to fool around with both. I’ve been a home cook for about 10 years, and been around football since I was 4 years old. This fall, perhaps I’ll find out which one I know better! So I'll be checking in periodically to make a pick - or picks (even I'm allowed a bye week here and there!). Again, I'm no expert, so please don’t go betting the mortgage on my humble picks! From that, I’ll make a dish that has something to do with the game - who I think will win, a star/key player, or other story line. Don’t worry - I’m a home cook so it won’t be anything you can’t do - I promise. I’m still learning so most of these will come from my stash of cookbooks or another recipe floating around the internet. I won’t pawn anything off as my own or pretend there’s some super-secret family recipe that I can't share. Most of these I will probably have made before, others might be an experiment. I hope all will go well, but some may go from stovetop right to the dumpster! I'll be sharing my successes, mishaps, and maybe even a few gratuitous shots of my crew of sous chefs and tasters :-)

I'm always a work in progress, so my food won't *always* be pretty (or healthy!), but it's going to taste good--and if it doesn't I'll tell you that, too. And just so you know, it's also a mathematical certainty that I'll whiff on some of my football picks, too. The whole point is to get better at both! So I hope you keep up with me this fall as I have some fun with the kitchen and the pigskin! I welcome all comments, suggestions, requests and discussions on all things pigskin and kitchen!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bowl Week 1

Bowl season is underway! Jameis wrapped up the Heisman in a blowout not unlike the way his Seminoles have been rolling up the competition in the ACC. No surprise there.
No real big games this week. I will probably take a look at USC and Fresno. USC has lost their head coach and the interim in a matter of months, so to say that the team is in disarray is a massive understatement. The players seemed to really play hard for Ed Orgeron, so I’ve got to believe his exit is a blow to the players. On the other side of the coin, this is essentially the third different USC team we’ll see this season. Every coach is different so Coach Helton (USC) will have an opportunity to throw in some wrinkles that have never been seen on tape before – which makes them somewhat dangerous. I’ve only seen USC this year, and they are the favorite, but I’m going to go out on a limb and take the Bulldogs because of the uncertainty in Los Angeles.

The food this week, is about another bowl that most people couldn’t care less about: The New Orleans Bowl. This game matches up Tulane against Louisiana-Lafayette. Two Louisiana teams facing off in New Orleans? How can I NOT make a New Orleans dish? I’ve searched far and wide for the perfect Jambalaya dish and I think that I’ve come pretty close. This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks: Cooking Up a Storm. The book contains recipes from the Times-Picayune that were lost after Hurricane Katrina. These have been around for years and each one has a great story to go along with it. If you don't cook one thing out of the book, it's still a great read.

So there are essentially two kinds of Jambalaya: brown and red. Red jambalaya is unique to New Orleans and has tomato in it. Brown does not have tomato and is typical of regions west of the Mississippi. Since we’re in New Orleans it’s only right that we do the Red.

New Orleans Jambalaya - from Cooking Up a Storm
Start out by melting butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add green onions, yellow onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic. Cook and stir until soft.
Add shrimp, ham, and sausage. Stir for about 3 minutes until the shrimp are cooked.

Stir in canned whole tomatoes and chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and cayenne.
Add bay leaves and stir in rice.

Bring to slight boil, then cover and reduce to medium low. Cook until rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid. The original recipe says about 25 minutes, mine took a little over a half hour. When done, remove bay leaves and serve.
How'd that Louisiana Hot Sauce get in the picture?
I have to tell you, this jambalaya was really REALLY good. And pretty easy, too. The hardest part was definitely chopping the vegetables and peeling the shrimp. Even then, I have a Ninja so that wasn't too bad either. If you don't have one, I can't recommend it enough.

Here's my quick PSA for The Ninja:

So if all your food was prepped and the traffic Gods smiled upon you one evening, you could totally pull this one off on a weeknight. Also, if you put just a little bit of hot sauce on this, it really enhances the flavor. You don't want to eat a bowl of hot sauce, but when you have the right amount, you'll know it because it takes it to another level. It's not particularly spicy to begin with unless you go crazy with the cayenne. This stuff is the real deal and we will definitely be making this again. Wait, did I even make a pick?

Have a great week!

New Orleans Jambalaya
Cooking Up a Storm

6 Tbsp butter
½ C chopped green onions (white and black parts)
½ C chopped yellow onions
1 large green bell pepper, julienned
1 C coarsely cut celery
1 tsp minced garlic
½ lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ lb cubed ham
½ lb smoked sausage (andouille or kielbasa), sliced 1/4” thick
(1) 16 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed, with their juices
1 C chicken broth
Salt, cayenne pepper
2 Bay leaves
1 C long grain white rice

1)Melt butter in large heavy pot over medium heat. Add green onions, yellow onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring until they are soft and pale gold, 6-8 minutes.

2)Add shrimp, ham, and sausage. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.

3)Stir in tomatoes and chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and cayenne.

4)Add bay leaves and the rice. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.

5)Remove the bay leaves and serve.

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