From the Chef’s Corner
Rice is a staple in many parts of the South, especially the Carolinas and Alabama, although, Louisiana and Texas run a good race with those states. This dish mixes flavors from the shore, garden and butcher into a classic Southern dish, perfect for a gathering of friends.
3 tbsp bacon drippings
¾ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 lg. jalapeno pepper, seeded, veins removed and finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp dried thyme, crushed
½ tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
Kosher salt to taste
Coarse ground black pepper, to taste
1 14.5 oz. canned crushed tomatoes, drained
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock or water
1 tbsp butter
1 cup long grain rice
8 oz. andouilla or smoked chorizo sausage, sliced in ½ inch
1 cup sliced fresh or frozen okra
1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
Heat bacon drippings in a large skillet; add onion, and cook over medium-low heat without stirring for 5 minutes. Add the green bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until onion and green pepper are soft, but not browned.
Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir in stock; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste carefully for seasoning (broth should be highly seasoned to flavor the rice).
In a heavy, wide-bottom non-reactive pot or heavy 12 inch skillet, heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 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 liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
Sprinkle shrimp lightly with salt and pepper. Stir the shrimp into rice mixture, cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes longer, just until the shrimp is opaque. Remove from heat and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.