September is National Rice Month.
Most people think of Louisiana or maybe Thailand when they think of rice.
However, Mississippi ranks fifth in rice production in the U.S. Several local grocery stores sell Mississippi-grown rice, and my favorite being Delta Blues Rice, which is located just north of Indianola in the Mississippi Delta.
Rice is one of the easiest foods to cook, simply add twice as much water as rice, simmer lid on for 20 minutes — that’s it.
If you have a rice cooker, it is even simpler. Just add rice and water, turn it on, walk away. In 20 minutes you have perfect rice every time.
If you want to fortify rice, cook it in stock. It will alter the color a bit, but it will add substantially to the flavor. If you want to really boost the flavor, gently toast the rice in garlic butter for a few minutes, then add water or stock and steam.
If you have a rice cooker, you can use it to make a lot more foods than just rice.
A rice cooker is a steamer, and you can add raw vegetables (even frozen) or cooked meat to the raw rice and it will all cook together. It is a simple way to make one-pot meal.
Today I share a few simple rice dishes that I hope you like.
Shrimp and Sausage
This is a classic combination that can’t be beat.
1 cup rice
2 cups water or stock
1-pound peeled shrimp
1 cup sliced smoked sausage
1 chopped bell pepper (Optional)
Salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes
Combine rice and water and steam lid-on for 20 minutes. Sauté the sausage in oil until well-browned, remove the sausage, add the shrimp and cook over high heat for 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp and add the peppers, cook only until tender. Combine all the ingredients, season to your taste, and toss, as you would a stir fry. Serve at once.
Double Cut Pork chop and Gravy
This is a great combination, just make sure not to overcook the pork. If you have an immersion circulator, cook the pork in the circulator at 138 f, and cook for 4 hours.
1 thick pork chop per person
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken stock
Black pepper and salt
Season the pork chop and sear in hot oil until well-browned. Turn the heat down, and slowly cook with the lid on, until the chops are done, but still just a bit pink. Combine rice and stock and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. When the chops are done remove and allow to rest. Add equal part of butter and flour to the same pan (do not remove any of the drippings). Cook over medium heat until you have a dark brown roux. If it is too thick, cut it with chicken stock, whisking until you have a smooth gravy. Taste and season as necessary. Serve the sliced chops on a bed of rice, with lots of gravy.
Quick Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and Brown Rice
This is a gumbo recipe that is just a bit different. The vegetables are roasted, not sautéed, which imparts deeper flavors. If you want to take a short cut, use Creole Seasoning (pre chopped vegetables found in most grocery stores in the fresh vegetable section), it will save to a little time and effort.
1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped okra
1 cup cooked chicken
1 cup sliced smoked sausage
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup brown rice
8 cups chicken stock
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, red pepper flakes.
In a heavy bottom pot, sauté the sausage until well browned. Leaving most of the oil from the sausage in the pot, add the vegetables, season to taste and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Add 4 cups stock and the chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. In a separate pot combine the flour and butter and make a dark brown roux. Do not burn the roux. Combine the rice and 4 cups of stock (brown rice takes more liquid that white rice), simmer lid-on for 20 minutes. Add the sausage to the pot, whisk in the roux. Simmer until it is as thick as you like it. Taste and re-season as necessary. Serve with a garnish of rice.