Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Red Rice

I once mailed $10 or so to the folks at Better Homes and Gardens, and they have been sending me their magazine for more than two years as a consequence. I know from the ominous letters and postcards that I've been receiving from them lately that the October issue was my last, and that's okay. I've enjoyed their magazine, and gotten some great recipes from them, but as a single person who lives in an apartment, I can't do much with their hosta replanting schemes or their children's birthday party decorating ideas. Better Homes and Gardens tends to be a casserole and cookies kind of recipe source, but recently, they've started running a column by chef Scott Peacock that gets to the bottom of "American Home Cooking" with traditional recipes for more complicated fare than usually gets tackled here. The "Shrimp-and-Sausage Red Rice" recipe in this column of the September issue was quite possibly life changing and most certainly repertoire changing. In fact, if this recipe was the only thing I ever got from the experience (though it wasn't - I have a few other standard favorites that I discovered in this magazine), the two years were totally worth it.

If I ate this meal at a restaurant, I would bring all my friends back over and over again to share the experience. Instead, I plan to cook it a lot in the future and share it with my friends that way! I cooked the entire recipe, which serves 6. I ate it for two dinners and two lunches, and froze the rest of it. I can't wait to thaw it out and eat the rest. It is absolutely phenomenal.

Shrimp-and-Sausage Red Rice
(don't ask me why it's hyphenated, I'm just writing what I see)
Better Homes and Gardens, September 2010

3 Tbsp bacon drippings
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green sweet pepper
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (Careful! Don't get burned!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
1 rounded Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock or water (I used chicken stock)
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup long grain rice
8 oz andouille or cooked, smoked chorizo sausage, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
1 cup sliced fresh okra (this recipe made me appreciate okra - be sure to use it!)
1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp (I used frozen cooked shrimp, thawed and drained)

In a large skillet heat bacon drippings. Add onion; cook over medium-low heat without stirring for 5 minutes. Add the sweet pepper, jalapeno, garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until onion and pepper are soft but not browned.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir in stock; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Taste carefully for seasoning (broth should be highly seasoned to flavor the rice).

In a heavy, wide-bottom nonreactive pot or heavy 12-inch skillet heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes until rice becomes translucent. Carefully stir in the hot tomato mixture. Cover quickly and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Add the sausage and okra, mixing in gently with two forks. Return cover and cook 10 minutes longer over very low heat, just until most of the liqued is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Sprinkle shrimp lightly with salt and pepper. Stir the shrimp into the rice mixture. Cover and cook 3 minutes longer, just until shrimp is opaque. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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