Jambalaya For 100? No Problem
Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 7:37 am
A good cook can spend years getting the flavor and seasoning in a single pot of jambalaya just right.
But when there are lots and lots of portions to serve – like at a tailgaiting party or a big family gathering — scaling up a classic and complicated recipe like jambalaya can get tricky.
That’s where Jay Grush comes in. Grush goes by the name StadiumRat on an LSU sports message board called tigerdroppings.com. A few years ago, he started chatting with people on the site’s Food and Drink board.
“Of course LSU is famous for their tailgating, and people would ask questions about how to cook a large of jambalaya and I was always wanting to learn how to cook one too
So he started taking notes.
“And then I realized this is all ratios and that’s what a spreadsheet is about. you can do calculations from one cell to another based on a ratio.”
Grush entered the proper ratios from his notes into an Excel spreadsheet, and called it the Jambalaya Calculator. He got help from his friends on the message board about how to set up the calculations.
It turns out, cooking the perfect pot of Jambalaya for a large group is not as easy as doubling or tripling the recipe to feed more people. For one, most people decide how much jambalaya they’re cooking… by the size of the pot they have. Grush said he wanted his calculations to measure volume very accurately so people would know how much they could fit in a particular pot.
On top of that, Grush found out that jambalaya is different from other dishes because the rice expands. In most other recipes, everything shrinks.
“The bigger your pot of jambalaya the less ratio of liquid to rice because as you increase the size of a pot, the surface area doesn’t reduce at the same rate… ]so it’s technical but it’s not just like multiplying a recipe. It won’t work just multiplying a recipe if you’re getting into bigger volumes.”
There may be plans to turn the Jambalaya Calculator into an app, but for now the latest version of the spreadsheet is free and available to download.