Savannah Red Rice
Recipe courtesy of The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook
Savannah Red Rice
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Heat 2 tablespoons bacon drippings and 2 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add the onion,celery, garlic, and 1 tablespoon salt; cook, stirring often, until the onion and garlic are tender. Add the tomatoes, stock, vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, the thyme, bay leaves, and chiles; simmer 15 to 20 minutes, tasting for seasoning.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons bacon drippings and 2 tablespoons butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until foamy. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until it is opaque, about 5 minutes. This step is very important to the final flavor of the dish, so don't skimp on the time-but also don't let the rice burn.
Add 4 cups of the tomato mixture to the rice; stir to combine,and cover. Set a timer and cook the rice for 25 minutes over very low heat. DO NOT LIFT THE LID. After 25 minutes, turn off the heat and let the rice stand for 5 more minutes. AGAIN, DO NOT LIFT THE LID. While the rice cooks, add the sausage to the remaining tomato mixture in the pan; cover and keep warm over very low heat.
While the rice is standing, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat until foamy. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring just until cooked through; add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the shrimp to the sausage and tomato mixture, and stir well.
Pour the shrimp and sausage mixture over the rice. Remove and discard bay leaves. Gently fluff the rice (you don't want to break the grains) to combine. Serve immediately.
Excerpted from the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook:
This version of the classic rice dish ( which is a Southern coastal interpretation of paella) is from Steven Satterfield, executive chef/owner of Miller Union in Atlanta. A few things are crucial to the final flavor of the dish. The first is using Carolina Gold rice, an heirloom variety of long-grain rice that is hand-harvested by its producer Anson Mills (buy it online at ansonmills.com). Sauteing the rice in fat for a good 5 minutes helps to infuse flavor into the individual grains. Lastly, no peeking while the rice is cooking-the covered cast iron pot is key to the development of the crust on the bottom. Steven likes to serve this with a green salad and roasted okra.