Okay, I know that Nashville isn’t considered Cajun or Creole country, but hey, country singers haven’t traditionally sung to digital drum loops either so what’re you gonna do? I, for one, can’t limit my jambalaya intake to time spent on the Gulf coast and the bayous (y’know, “True Blood” territory.) And once you try this stick-to-your-ribs, cures-what-ails-ya recipe, you won’t want to wait either. If you don’t already own a cast iron skillet, here’s your excuse to go get one. Seriously. I swear by them, as do most other cooks in the South and across this great land. I’m so passionate about my cast iron skillet that I wanted to stop at the Lodge cast iron factory here in Tennessee, en route from Chattanooga. (Alas for me and luckily for my driver on that journey, it was a Sunday so the factory was closed.) Whether you buy one pre-seasoned or inherit one that’s been seasoned with lard by the previous four generations of your family, this is one cooking implement that no kitchen–Southern or not–should be without.
I’ll just give it to you straight: red beans ‘n’ rice is not a dish that one eats in California. I didn’t grow up with my mother stirring a large cast iron skillet of anything, much less andouille infused red beans. So upon moving to the South and beginning to date a man from Mississippi with the kind of redneck credibility that I’m keenly aware I’m lacking in, I was quickly challenged to reevaluate my preconception of “red beans ‘n’ rice” as a side dish that I’d never order myself (while disdaining to taste any that Reb ordered and greedily devoured) to a main event worthy of being cooked up in a large batch back in my own kitchen at home.