A hearty, one-pot dish tinged red with tomato, studded with sausage and rich in flavor, red rice is also known as Charleston red rice. It’s a dish that “goes back to the old, old days — the days before me, my momma, and hers,” writes Emily Meggett, the author of “Gullah Geechee Home Cooking: Recipes from the Matriarch of Edisto Island,” from which this recipe is adapted. Earthy and beautiful in its simplicity, red rice shares lineage with jollof and jambalaya, but is its own unique dish from the Lowcountry. “Red rice really owes a great debt to the enslaved Africans who brought their knowledge of rice and vegetable farming to the United States,” Meggett notes.
To make this dish without meat, use soy sausage or omit the bacon or salt pork and sausage and saute the vegetables in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. You will need to adjust the seasoning to taste.
This recipe is featured in the Eat Voraciously newsletter. Sign up here.
Active time: 45 mins; Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Storage Notes: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Tested size: 4 servings; makes 6 to 8 cups
3 thick slices bacon or about 3 ounces salt pork, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion (8 ounces), diced
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
2 celery stalks, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
8 ounces smoked pork sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds or chopped into bite-size pieces
6 tablespoons tomato paste
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon Nature’s Seasons, sazon, powdered adobo or other similar salted seasoning blend, plus more to taste
1 cup (about 6 ounces) long-grain rice, unrinsed
In a large pot over medium heat, fry the bacon or salt pork, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the sausage, and cook until lightly browned, stirring as needed, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, letting it coat all of the vegetables and meat, and then add the water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes and Nature’s Seasons or other spice mix. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently to keep the rice from sticking, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 10 minutes. Decrease the heat to the lowest possible setting, cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, with a wooden spatula or fork to help fluff the grains, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid, and is tender and fluffy. Remove from the heat and serve family-style.
Adapted from “Gullah Geechee Home Cooking: Recipes from the Matriarch of Edisto Island” by Emily Meggett (Abrams, 2022).
Tested by G. Daniela Galarza and Kara Elder.
Email questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.