Pros: quick and easy, decent taste, goes well with chicken, sausage or shrimp
Cons: not as good as homemade
I love cajun/creole cuisine, but up here in the Northeast we are culinarily challenged when it comes to southern style cuisine. You should see some of the looks I've gotten from grocers when I ask them if they carry andouille sausage! Don't you people ever watch Emeril?!?!?
Anyway, I remember the first time I saw Zatarain's products in my local supermarket. I saw the words "New Orleans Style" and decided right there I would try this product.
Now, normally I would make my own jambalaya - again, being where I am caused me to learn how to make my favorite foods - but the process of making a good jambalaya from scratch can take several hours. Some days, I'd like something similar but in a fraction of the time. That's where Zatarain's Jambalaya mix comes in handy, even for a foodie like me.
The box contains a packet of rice and seasonings that you add to boiling water. You set the burner to low and cover the pot. Make sure to stir it occasionally though. If you don't have the best pots some of it might burn on the bottom as the rice absorbs the water. It takes 20-25 minutes to finish.
I will typically cook chicken and/or sausage in a seperate pan, then add it to the Zatarains mix near the end of the cooking time. I've occasionally thrown in some shrimp near the end of the cook time and let the heat of the mix cook the shrimp.
The finished product tastes pretty good for something that came out of a box. The seasoning is just right, and you can adjust the texture of the rice by putting a little extra water in for wet rice or just a tiny bit less water than what's called for if you like fluffier rice.
You can always use the jambalaya without any meat in it if you just want it as a side dish.
There's three people in my house, and we all eat the same size portion. One box makes enough for all three of us to have plenty.
I haven't bought any boxes recently, but I think a box cost $1.99 the last time I stocked up.
By the way, Zatarain's offers several other tasty boxed mixes, such as yellow rice, red beans and rice, chicken creole and rice, dirty rice, and cornbread stuffing mix. Here is a link to their website: http://www.zatarains.com/