|Similar to Spanish rice, red rice is a blend of vegetables, tomatoes, rice and of course for us along the Gulf Coast, our sweet, Gulf-fresh shrimp.|
Southern Red Rice with Shrimp and BaconThis is one of The Cajun's favorite rice dishes and it's really easy to make. It's a Carolina dish with a bit of my own Deep South flare and similar in some ways to our jambalaya with a touch of flavor akin to a Spanish rice. My version contains some of our familiar Deep South elements, like Creole seasoning, hot sauce, and what else but the Trinity of Deep South cooking, plus the addition of one of our favorite southern seasonings - bacon.
Some people prepare this dish stovetop, but I like the oven method, because to me it's a whole different texture and flavor level. But it's hot outside, so either way will work if you don't want to crank up the oven. You can also omit the shrimp if you like.
It's going to surprise a few of you that I'm not using my familiar and favorite Slap Ya Mama seasoning here. Well, I do actually keep a variety of Creole and Cajun seasonings in my pantry and one of my favorites is this Zatarain's Big & Zesty mix because, as you see here, it's a big flake seasoning, rather than a fine grind like Slap Ya Mama. It works really well here, but of course, use what you have, keeping in mind that if you're using a finer grind of seasoning, you'll probably want to use less.
Rather than stirring the shrimp into the rice near the end of cooking, I just give them a quick stir fry in oil and then toss them in some butter for extra richness, before spooning them over the red rice. Here's how to make it.
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Recipe: Southern Red Rice with Shrimp and Bacon©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 45 min | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings
- 5 slices of bacon, chopped
- 1/2 cup of chopped onion
- 1/2 cup of chopped green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup of chopped celery
- 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (10 ounce) can of diced tomatoes with chilies (like Rotel), undrained
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 cups of uncooked long grain white rice
- 2-1/2 cups of chicken broth
- 1/2 tablespoon of Zatarain's Big & Zesty (big flake) Original Creole seasoning, or your favorite Cajun/Creole seasoning, or to taste
- Couple dashes of hot pepper sauce
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or to taste, plus more for garnish
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
- Old Bay seasoning, to taste
- 2 pounds of small, raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Lemon wedges for the table, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use kitchen shears to cut bacon directly into a large Dutch oven and cook over medium high heat until slightly crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. To the rendered fat, add the onion, bell pepper and celery. Cook over medium heat until tender; add the garlic and cook another minute.
Stir in the tomatoes, with their liquid, and the sugar; bring to a boil. Add the rice and the chicken broth, return to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the Creole seasoning, hot sauce, thyme and parsley, and the cooked bacon; stir. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir, cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
Remove from oven and let stand covered. Heat canola in a skillet over high heat. Sprinkle the shrimp with Old Bay, add to the hot oil and stir fry quickly, stirring constantly, just until shrimp turn pink and are no longer translucent. Add butter and toss. Fluff rice with a fork and toss with shrimp, or simply spoon red rice onto the plate and top each serving with a serving of shrimp, including some of the pan juices from the shrimp. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired and serve with lemon wedges.
Cook's Notes: May also use a 3.5 quart baking dish for baking. Spray with non-stick spray, prepare ingredients in a skillet, cover tightly with several and transfer to bake. I think the texture is better baked, however you may also cook this completely on the stovetop for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
For a Southwestern Flair: Add 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1/2 tablespoon of chili powder.
Make it Mexican: Add one small hot chile, like a serrano or jalapeno, seeded, ribs removed, and finely chopped.
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