Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding with Butter-Rum Sauce

bread puddingAt the recent boudin bash we had at Cathy’s house, I also contributed a cinnamon-raisin bread pudding with a butter-rum sauce to the festivities along with the jambalaya. Now, mind you … bread pudding is something I have long loathed (that texture thing I have), until I happened upon this particular combination. Everyone who has tasted it has loved it and I can now count myself among the devotees.

The secret is using cinnamon-raisin bread rather than bread with raisins thrown in. I like Trader Joe’s cinnamon-raisin bread (well, of course I do), but you can use Pepperidge Farm if that is the only option you have. Don’t skip the chilling of the mixture, otherwise your texture will be greatly compromised.

You can, of course, skip the butter-rum sauce and serve the bread pudding with plain whipped cream instead, but really … why would you?

Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding

1 loaf Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Raisin bread (Note: this is different than Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Roll bread, although I have to admit I’m intrigued to use that someday and see what happens. Also, if you use Pepperidge Farm brand, you will have to use 1-1/2 loaves as the loaf weight between the brands differs.)
4 large organic eggs
1-1/2 cups organic whole milk
2/3 cup organic maple syrup
1/2 cup organic heavy cream
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Make sure the oven rack is in the center position. Spray a 10-inch casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cut the bread into 1” cubes and place in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, heavy cream, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until well-combined. Pour egg mixture over bread; stir well until all the bread is saturated. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Scrape the mixture into the casserole dish and smooth the top. Bake, uncovered, for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan until just slightly warm before serving.

Butter-Rum Sauce

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) organic unsalted butter
1/2 cup organic heavy cream
2 tablespoons dark rum (Meyer’s Original Dark Rum is my favorite)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a heavy medium saucepan, heat the light brown sugar and the butter together over medium heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the cream, rum, and cinnamon; lower the heat to medium-low and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens and is reduced to 1-1/2 cups, about 5 minutes. Serve warm over bread pudding.

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Boudin.

Boudin.

Boudin, after hours of prep.

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” –Otto von Bismarck

A few months ago, a group of women I know realized one of our friends knew how to make boudin. Boudin, in case you aren’t up on your regional sausages, is a Louisiana-centric way of making sausage. Essentially, it’s pork butt, liver, onions, garlic, green peppers, celery, rice, and seasoning, run through a grinder and stuffed in sausage casing.

Which is what we did. First, Tiffany chopped an astounding amount of pork butt (we made enough for nine people) and chicken liver. Then we added onions, garlic, green peppers, celery, parsley, green onion tops, rice, salt, cayenne, and black pepper. Mix it all together, stuff it in the casings (yes, intestines, and no, they aren’t as gross as you think), boil, and they’re ready to go. There’s a bit more to the process (see below), but that’s the gist.

Grinding

This is cooked pork butt and chicken liver, going through the grinder on my Kitchen Aid.

Making boudin takes far less effort than I’d previously thought, and it opened up a whole world of sausage making to me. However, I’ve realized I need to hone my sausage stuffing skills. I’m pathetic. Also, I need to buy a special attachment for my Kitchen-Aid to stuff boudin (or any sausage). When we did this, Juju (with a name like that, yes, she’s the one from Louisiana) let us use hers.

So, here’s the boudin recipe, and realize it isn’t spicy hot, so you can serve this to even the wimpiest ones in your family. Also, if you can overcome the intestine skins as casings, you can do anything with the, Seriously. I’m toying with seafood sausage, egg and bacon sausage, vegetarian (well, except for the casing) sausage. A whole new world of yum has opened itself unto me!

Boudin

I stuffed the lumpy sausages. Juju stuffed the pretty ones.

Now, the boudin:

2 1/2 pounds of pork butt (or meat of your choosing)

1/2 pound of liver (we used chicken liver, but you can use whichever liver makes you happy)

1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

6 cups rice, cooked

1 cup parsley, chopped

1 cup green onions (tops only)

Directions:

  1. Cut pork into two-inch chunks.
  2. Clean the livers. You’ll know how to do this when you see them.
  3. Boil the pork and liver with everything but the green onions and the parsley in water for at least 90 minutes, but not more than two hours. Let it cool.
  4. While it’s cooling, run cool, clean water through the, uh, casings.
  5. Grind to medium coarse in meat grinder.
  6. Mix with rice and season to taste (salt, pepper, chili pepper of your choice and amount)
  7. Use your sausage stuffer attachment to stuff the boudin as you would sausage (just think about what sausage should look like as you do this; it’s relatively self-explanatory as to how to attach the “casings” to the stuffer and get things stuffing) and start stuffing. Knot between links.
  8. Boil to cook and cure. A few minutes should do it. You will, I should note, still have to cook the sausage – fried in oil, boiled with jambalaya, whatever works for you.

And there you have it. You just made sausage!

Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

Jambalaya. The very word evokes hot nights on the bayou, fiddle music, and cold beer. Ever since I first visited New Orleans almost 20 years ago, I can’t get enough of this stuff. It’s the rice/andouille/tomatoes/cayenne thing. And the shrimp.

This recipe comes to me from Tiffany, who made this for a boudin party (that’s a separate post) we had at my house (new kitchen means I want to cook all the things, and those for which I have no recipes, I want other people to make in my kitchen).

Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

1 medium onion, quartered
1 stalk celery, quartered
1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp. vegetable oil
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
12 oz. andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices and halved
1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained (reserve 1/4 cup juice )
1 cup bottled clam juice
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1-1/2 lbs. shrimp (31-40 count), peeled and deveined
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Combine the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped fine.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pot, skin-side down, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook until golden brown on the opposite side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Lower the heat to medium and add the andouille. Cook, stirring often, until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium-low and add the chopped vegetables to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes. Add the rice, salt, thyme and cayenne; cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is coated with the fat, about 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, clam juice, chicken broth, bay leaves and cooked sausage to the pot. Stir to combine.

Remove the skin from the chicken pieces and place the chicken on the rice so that the side the skin was just removed from is now facing down. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir once, keeping the chicken in the same general position, and continue to simmer until the chicken is no longer pink inside, about 10 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a clean plate or cutting board and set aside. Scatter the shrimp over the rice, cover, and continue to cook until the rice is fully tender and the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes more.

While the shrimp are cooking, shred the chicken. Once the shrimp are finished cooking, discard the bay leaves, stir in the chicken and parsley, and serve immediately.

#BecauseYum