Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Recipe: Spicy sausage and rice

There's something about a chilly day that makes me want to eat something likely to warm me up, like soup. Unfortunately there is such a thing as too much soup or even chili for that matter. Did you know that when you are cold, your appetite increases as you body yearns for more fuel to keep itself warm? When that happens, I find myself scrambling for something warm, comforting and filling. Today I glanced at my Reverse Grocery List (which I mentioned in a previous post about cutting down on our food waste) and realized I had the perfect spicy comfort meal just waiting to be made. I'm calling it Spicy Sausage and Rice, which is something close to the classic Louisiana "red beans and rice," but replaces the beans with smoked turkey sausage.

Before doing anything with this dish, get your rice cooking. That takes the longest.

Next, take about 1/4 cup of chopped onions and toss them in a pan with medium-hot olive oil. Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and cumin to coat. I was taught to spice each layer of food, so this is not where you add all the spice. Each time you add another component, you add more spice. Keep that in mind so it doesn't get too hot for you. When the onions are almost done, add a pat of butter and some minced garlic. Cook another couple of minutes.

As your onions and garlic are cooking, chop up some turkey sausage. I went with Johnsonville smoked turkey sausage cause that's what the fiance bought for brat-beer-and-Lord-of-the-Rings-marathon night, but you can go with pretty much anything you want. Add it to the onions with a little extra olive oil. Add some more cumin and, if you want it super spicy, cayenne pepper.

Open a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. Or you can do plain tomatoes and season those up, but these are super cheap and easy. I use them as a base for everything from pasta sauce to chili. Pour a little of the juice into the sausage, then add some of the tomatoes without the juice. The key here is to get a lot of tomatoes but just enough juice to create a bit of sauce for the sausage.

If you've timed your rice just right, it will have finished just as you're ready to add it to the mix. I used 1/2 cup of brown rice, which I've gotten slightly obsessed with recently. It's not everyone's cup of tea though, since there's a lot of flavor where most people expect to just taste almost nothing. Scoop the rice into the pan with the sausage, onion and tomato mixture.

Add a little more of the tomato juice and stir to coat the rice in yummy goodness. Add more tomatoes, if you like, and whatever of the spices you want to make this taste awesome to your standards. Remember, rice soaks up the juice and spice pretty quickly, so taste it as you go along or you could end up with something bland.

Are you hungry? I am. Too bad I ate all of this last night at work.

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