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Wingin’ It: Jollof rice brings the heat to the Houston Texans

Come for the recipe, stay for the exposition

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You like football. You like food. So do we! So much so, in fact, that we smash the two together to bring you a Buffalo Bills-inspired recipe each week. Whether it’s a take on an opponents’ fave or some real mad scientist **** coming your way, Wingin’ It is the spot to watch. This week we’re prepping for the Houston Texans!

Wingin it Jollof rice

If there’s one thing recipe sites are notorious for it’s voluminous entries that make you scroll for hours before hitting the actual recipe. I try to avoid that. Quick intro for the premise. Quick explanation on the tie-in for the week. Not this week. Buckle up.

Starting this series over (holy crap) three years ago I had a pretty clear goal in mind. I wanted to virtually “tour” the culinary world of NFL cities. As we started running out of cities I opened the door wider. At this point, season four of Wingin’ It is pretty much a world tour—and that’s awesome.

It was never just about food. Like football, food has the power to draw people together. How many people have thought “that smells sooooo good” and were compelled to ask a stranger “What is that?” I bet that number is incalculable. Food drives curiosity, and curiosity is good for this world. So back to football.

When Efe Obada joined the Buffalo Bills we got articles like this one, detailing his life story. Read it. Search for interviews. It’s 100 percent worth your time if you haven’t already. It starts in Nigeria and ends...well who knows? The man seems determined to make the most of what he’s been given and holy heck is it easy to root for him.

Obada made me realize, I know next to nothing about Nigeria. That led to curiosity. And now it leads to food. Jollof rice hails from Nigeria and appears for Texans week as Texas is home to the largest number of Americans reporting Nigerian ancestry.

So you get a long story this week to hopefully remind you of several things. There is good food all over the world. There are good people all over the world. Curiosity is a good thing. When all three come together, something special happens.

Note: Usually I create a recipe after researching many and taking the best bits and making it my own. For this week, I looked at several but loved this one for lots of reasons. Mine is different, but pretty directly based off of this one and the discussion on the rice itself is a good read. Author Kitchen Butterfly says about Jollof rice “it’s that one dish across West Africa that is a unifying dish.”

Buffalo Jollof rice

Makes: A lot. Seriously. A lot. You can halve this if you need
Active Time: 60 min
Total Time: 120 min

You’ll need: Blender


6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
3 large bell peppers, chopped (seed removal optional)
1 large red onion (half chopped, half sliced)
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp thyme
2 dried bay leaves
3 oz. tomato paste
6 cups stock (divided and whatever type you like, I used chicken)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
4 cups washed, uncooked basmati rice
Salt and pepper to taste (Kitchen Butterfly recommends both black and white pepper)

12 cup hot sauce
Roughly 1 hot pepper
3 Tbsp apple cider
14 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

  1. Puree chopped tomatoes, bell peppers and 12 onion with 2 cups of the stock in blender.
  2. Add puree to a large pot on HIGH; bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer; cover.
  3. Melt 2 Tbsp of butter in a large pan on MED, add sliced onions and sauté for about two min.
  4. Add curry powder, thyme, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the pan; continue to sauté for another 3-4 min.
  5. Stir in tomato paste; continue stirring for two minutes. Remove from heat.
  6. Add sauté mixture to large pot with the tomato/bell pepper/onion/stock mixture; stir.
  7. Reduce combined mixture to MED with lid on until it’s about halved, about 15 min.
  8. Add remainder of stock and bring to a boil for about 2 min.
  9. Add rice and butter; stir and reduce heat to LOW. (Kitchen Butterfly recommends using a double layer of foil with the lid on to form an extra seal and lock in flavor.)
  10. Simmer on LOW about 30 min. (You can make the sauce during this time.)
  11. Stir and adjust taste as needed.
  12. Puree hot sauce and pepper in blender (keep the seeds).
  13. Combine puree, cider, and curry powder in small pan on MED, stirring occasionally, for about 7 min.
  14. Remove from heat and stir in unsalted butter

Wingin’ It Tips and Prep Gallery

This takes some time and a good many pans but it’s well worth it and you’ll have more than enough rice for a family—which leads me to the main variation in my recipe. Kitchen Butterfly’s includes the heat in the beginning when you’re creating the stew that will end up flavoring the whole deal. For many families there might be disagreements on how spicy dinner should be. So I went with one of the hottest sauces I’ve done to date so you can stir in as much or as little as you want.

For the prep gallery, the first picture is showing the fact that we don’t have a blender, we have a smoothie maker. It does the blending incredibly well for this kind of thing, but I ended up doing four batches of puree for the stew, and another batch to make the hot sauce.

The second picture shows the room temperature veggie puree with chicken stock. It kind of looks like milk and not super appetizing but keep pushing through. It’s about to smell really good. The third picture is when it starts to boil and looks like something from Gremlins (which is the best Christmas movie of all time). The final picture is there to remind you what’s on the other side.