Our marriage is a mixed marriage and as such has tension from time to time. Sally is a potato girl and will not eat rice. I will eat potatoes but I dearly love rice. So whenever I eat apart from my wife I take advantage of the situation and cook the foods she won't eat.
One of the pots I insisted I keep when we married was a rice steamer. It died two years into our marriage and I had to scramble to replace it. Most people think of electric contraptions when you mention 'rice steamer'. What I have and had was more typically termed a Charleston rice steamer. It looks an awful lot like a double boiler. What it is, is an absolutely idiot proof method of cooking rice. It's nigh impossible to overcook rice in a Charleston rice steamer. The only peril is if the water in the bottom boils away (which is how mine died).
Ever since law school (20+ years ago), I've been making a variation on Jambalaya in my steamer. I made it again today for lunch, in fact. It uses one pot, which is key for me as I'm the one who does the dishes around here.
Steamy Legal Jumble
1. Boil the water in the bottom of the steamer. Salt this water (a pinch will do)
2. Cut the protein into tasty bite sized chunks. The protein can be any mixture of eggplant, shrimp, sausage, cooked chicken, really any meat or meat substitute that remains coherent. I prefer seafood or sausage as that keeps the pans down to a minimum.
3. Once the water is boiling add 1/2 cup rice + 1/2 cup stock for each person to the steam basket (the top bit).
4. Into the same basket add the protein, chopped celery, onion and bell pepper to taste, chopped garlic, and whatever herbs and peppers you think enhance flavour. If I'm cooking seafood, I usually add a pinch of Bay's for example. Go crazy with herbs! Okra is primo in this.
5. Put the basket on top of the pot of boiling water. Cover.
6. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Set a timer for 30 minutes or more.
7. Walk away and neglect the pot until the timer goes off.
8. Serve and enjoy!
Gourmet cuisine it ain't. And it isn't authentic creole either (they don't seem to use rice steamers). But it is really good one pot cooking.
Today's ingredients were:
Two thin sausages (bought on sale), 2/3 cups rice (I really like rice), 2/3's cup beef stock, remnants of an onion (chopped), 1 small bell pepper, 1 stalk celery (all we had), pepper, scant pinch of salt, basil and herbs fine.
I'm absolutely positive my sister has a variation on this with a better name that is tastier besides.
Addendum: One of the criticisms of Charleston rice steamers is that the rice in the top dries out and is therefore hard to clean. There is a trick to that. About fifteen minutes before you're about to do the dishes, return the bottom portion to a simmer. Put the empty or partially empty top part back on. When you are ready to wash up, scoop at all remaining food in the top and save for leftovers in a microwave safe dish. Place the top part in the sink. Put some dish soap in it. Empty the water from the bottom part into the top part. Let it soak for a bit. It should now clean up a treat.