Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rice+scraps=comfort food

A lot of different cultures have their own version of fried rice - a dish whose primary purpose is to use up leftover scraps of meat and vegetables. Paella, risotto, and jambalaya are all variations of this type of cooking, and while these dishes may be distinguished by the different grains of rice they use or a few key ingredients like saffron, Parmesan cheese, or tasso, you can make your own version of a rice dish that might fall somewhere in between these classics.

Here's a dish somewhere between a paella and a jambalaya that I whipped up this evening. I had some linguica and cilantro that I need to use while they were still good, so that was the inspiration for this dish.

approximately 1/2 lb portugese sausage such as linguica, chourico, or andouille, sliced about 1/4" thick
1/2 bag of frozen mixed seafood (shrimp, scallops, calamari) from Trader Joe's. You can also just use medium shrimp.
1 16oz can diced stewed tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups long grain rice
1 cup frozen peas
bay leaf
red pepper flakes
dried oregano
saffron (optional)

1. Heat up 2 Tbs olive oil in a large pot and cook sausage over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
2. Add onions and garlic. Cook until soft.
3. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of oregano, a pinch of saffron, about 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, and pepper to taste. Let everything cook for a couple minutes.
4. Add stock and bring to boil. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning to taste (adding salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if necessary).
5. Add rice and stir until the stock starts to bubble again. Turn heat to low, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, thaw out the seafood by soaking in a bowl of tepid water. After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, add seafood and cover again.
7. Let it cook for about 2 minutes, then add peas and cover again. Let it keep cooking until the seafood looks done (the shrimp will be pink), then mix in a bunch of chopped up cilantro and serve.

This should make enough for 3 servings if it is the meal, or 4 to 5 servings if it is a side dish. Total prep and cooking time comes in at around 30 to 45 minutes.

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