A recipe for “Jambalaya” from Oklahoma

I love cookbooks. I find something interesting in almost everything I read and I have read a lot. That’s why I started an intermittent series where I write about cookbooks. So far, I’ve written about the cookbooks I love.

A friend whose name rhymes with “Boscar” recently sent me a screenshot of a cookbook he picked up in Oklahoma; it was a “Jambalaya” recipe from a restaurant called Henry’s Brake Room in Drummond, Oklahoma. It’s from a book called “Oklahoma Back Road Restaurant Recipes,by Anita Musgrove (Great American Publishers, 2019). Boscar is a great guy and he and his wife both know good cooking. He didn’t send me the recipe because he thought I would like to make it.

The recipes are not copyrighted, but rather than copying what’s in the book, I’ll summarize. Ingredients are 2 whole chickens, 2.5 pounds smoked sausage, 1 stick of butter, 1 tbsp. flour, 3 cups chopped white onion, 3 cups chopped bell pepper, ½ cup white wine, 3 cups Worcestershire sauce, 2 cups soy sauce, pepper, salt, 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste) 1 gallon diced tomatoes, cooked rice for serving and shredded mozzarella for garnish.

The method involves boiling the chickens to make a broth, although you only use half the broth in the recipe. Then you make a light brown “roux” with the stick of butter and 1 tbsp. flour, after which you add the garlic, then the onion. You cook that for 5-7 minutes then add the bell pepper, cook another 5-7 minutes then add the wine, then 3 cups Worcestershire sauce and 2 cups soy sauce, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (to taste).

Next, debone the chicken and add it along with the sausage and tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat until heated through. You may notice that although the recipe is ostensibly for “jambalaya”, the ingredient list does not include rice; he does, because he concludes, “serve over rice; top with mozzarella.

I have reached out to Henry’s Brake Room on Facebook and by phone for comment, but as of this writing have not heard back.

I don’t understand how anyone who’s ever cooked something could think it’s edible, let alone jambalaya. There’s so much wrong with that that I suspect it’s a mistake. If I hear from Henry’s and learn that the recipe was written while the chef was in a coma or there was some other problem, I will let you know accordingly.

But if not, this recipe is a abomination.

It’s not about the fact that it’s called ‘jambalaya’, because no one has time to monitor the myriad of recipes found in print and online that go by that title but have nothing to do with it. do with the dish as we know it. (See also: okra) And I’m the kind of person who takes into account the different techniques/ingredients in any plate; especially one like jambalaya which is so similar to dishes from so many other cuisines that it’s almost impossible to call an “authentic” version.

I accepted the idea that one could, if one wanted to, cook the rice separately from the rest of the jambalaya and I am not opposed to the inclusion of unconventional ingredients. I think the kids’ recipe from Crescent Pie & Sausage Factory, which included black peas, granulated garlic and pre-cooked rice, is really, really good.

But it is beyond pallor. I don’t know how anyone who has eaten the food would think that 3 cups of Worcestershire sauce and 2 cups of soy sauce are appropriate for the amounts given in the rest of the recipe. And “serve over rice?” How much rice? How many people is it supposed to serve? 2 chickens and 2.5 pounds of wieners seems about right for a dozen, but the rest of the recipe makes it look like it was meant for some sort of institutional application. Maybe a prison where they punish you with salt.

Then there are superfluous touches like “1/2 cup of white wine”. Why? Who among us has the palate sensitive enough to detect ½ cup of white wine when there are also 3 cups of Worcestershire sauce and 2 cups of soy sauce? Is it because you usually crave a bit of acid/alcohol when cooking with tomatoes? Because if so, it’s not enough to make a difference.

You can pour a cup of vodka into the pan and get a better result. In fact, drinking a cup of vodka before eating would probably be a better idea.

The crafty among you may notice that there is no seasoning other than salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper (to taste). No “spice blend” or herbs are involved, dried or not. There’s no celery or other traditional ingredients like green onion, parsley or thyme. There is, for some reason, mozzarella cheese.

I don’t know why mozzarella cheese is included in this recipe, and I’m not going to speculate on the eating habits of refined people who live in Oklahoma because I find it very, very hard to believe anyone in Oklahoma Has eaten this recipe before. .

I’ve spent time in small towns in Iowa, Indiana, Missouri and Illinois over the past few years and while I haven’t found the kind of food culture we have here, I ‘ve found delicious things to eat. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had were in Chicago, which is an underrated food city as far as I’m concerned.

I can’t find a reliable source for Henry’s Brake Room menu other than a photo that only has various cuts of steak and a rack of lamb, with an all you can eat buffet on Tuesdays and fish fries on Fridays, both for $10.

The best I can figure out is that this dish is something they serve on the buffet, or it was something someone thought they might serve on the buffet when Henry agreed to to be in this cookbook but was never done because the alternative – that it’s actually something people cook and eat – is too sad to contemplate.