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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Southern Style Spanish Rice



South Carolina has a long standing history with rice. From the 1700's to present, rice has been a mainstay in the lifestyle of South Carolinians.  There are many recipes involving the versatile grain.
This southern side dish is well known to our grandmothers and many referred to it as "Spanish Rice". . Reasons it acquired this nickname are not clear, but most older Southerners will know what you are referring to if you ask for it by this name.
Southern Red rice is a great side dish for a variety of different meals. It is a great compliment to shrimp, sausage, and fish in particular. Every southern cook has their own recipe, this version is mine. Feel free to add to, or take away according to your own likes. This is why rice is such a wonderful versatile dish.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups of water
6 slices of bacon
1 stalk of finely diced celery, leafy parts included
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 Red Bell pepper, 1/2 Green Bell Pepper, 1/2 Yellow Bell pepper, all diced
1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
8 ounces of crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. Basil
1/4 tsp. Thyme
1/4 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. of pepper

The rice to water ratio is easy to remember, 1 cup uncooked rice to every 2 cups water. For the purposes of this recipe, I suggest 2 cups of rice, and 4 cups of water, this will serve a large family. First things first, bring water to a boil, and then add the rice. Cover with a snug fitting lid and in 20-22 minutes your rice is cooked. Add a few pats of butter leave covered, take off heat and set aside.
In a large skillet, fry about 6 slices of thick bacon, and remove from pan and allow to drain on paper towels. With the rendered bacon fat, on medium heat, add one diced onion, green Bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and red bell pepper, A stalk of celery finely diced, green leafy parts as well. Saute until all vegetables are soft and onions are translucent. Add 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. of pepper, 1 tsp. Basil, 1/4 tsp. Thyme, 1/4 tsp. Sage, and 1/4 tsp. of Paprika. Stir and mix very well. Add in two 15 ounce cans of either diced tomatoes, or 2 cups of stewed tomatoes. Add in about 8 ounces of crushed tomatoes.
Stir sauteed vegetables, diced tomatoes, and crushed tomatoes and bring up to a simmer. Chop up the cooked bacon and add back into the mixture. Add this to the pot of rice or vice-versa depending on which will hold the other. Mix well so that all ingredients are well incorporated. Serve hot.
Author note: Don't be afraid to add a little hot sauce to it, to take it up a notch.
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