Oven-Baked Savannah Red Rice
Source of Recipe
From "A Real Southern Cook in Her Savannah Kitchen" by Dora Charles
"Red rice is a signature dish in Savannah, so it better be good. I used to have a problem cooking red rice on top of the stove. It would always sog out on me, and I hated that. Finally it dawned on me that it might work better baked in the oven, and I was so happy the first time I tried it that way. Now it's one of my favorite dishes. First, you make a delicious sauce that cooks down a bit, then you layer rice, sauce, vegetables, and butter in the baking dish. It all bakes together, and I give you my word, it's never soggy. This recipe uses turkey sausage, which makes the dish a little lighter, but you could use another kind of smoky sausage if you'd rather. The only other remarkable ingredient is Texas Pete, a great hot sauce featuring three different peppers, which is not actually from Texas but from North Carolina."
List of Ingredients
◦ One 28-ounce can tomato sauce
◦ One 28-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
◦ One 6-ounce can tomato paste
◦ 1 cup bacon grease (if you have it) or vegetable oil
◦ ¼ cup Texas Pete or other hot sauce
◦ 4 cups sliced smoked sausage (about 2 pounds), such as Hillshire Farms smoked turkey sausage or kielbasa
◦ 3 tablespoons Dora's Savannah Seasoning (recipe follows)
◦ 3 tablespoons sugar
◦ 1 tablespoon Accent (optional)
◦ 4 cups converted rice
◦ 2 cups finely chopped green bell peppers
◦ 2 cups finely chopped onions
◦ 5 tablespoons butter
In an 8-quart pot, combine the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes (put both cans aside to measure the water), tomato paste, bacon grease or oil, hot sauce, sausage, Savannah seasoning, sugar, and Accent (if using). Fill the tomato sauce and diced tomato cans with water, add it to the pot, and stir well. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Toward the end of the cooking time, set the oven to 350 degrees.
Pour the rice into an 8-quart (20 by 12-inch) baking dish or divide it between two 9 by 12-inch baking dishes. Spread the rice out evenly. Measure out 9 cups of the tomato sauce and spread it over the rice; save the remaining sauce for later. Scatter the peppers and onions over the tomato sauce. Cut the butter into small pieces and scatter it over the top.
Cover the dish with a lid or seal it tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Stir the rice and check to see if it is done or if you need to add more of the tomato sauce to keep it moist while it finishes cooking. It may need to bake for as long as 1 hour and 15 minutes. The smaller baking dishes will take 30 to 45 minutes.
Serves 25 to 30
❧ Dora's Savannah Seasoning:
"I keep this basic spicy seasoning mix in a little jar by the stovetop; I use it that often. It's good with almost everything from eggs to chicken to pork and even some vegetables, and you can save yourself a little time making it up ahead. Always taste what you're cooking once it's gone in, because you may find you need a little more of one or two elements to bring up the flavor."
◦ ⅓ cup Lawry's Seasoned Salt
◦ ¼ cup salt
◦ 2 scant tablespoons granulated garlic or garlic powder
◦ 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, mix everything together very thoroughly.
Store the seasoning in a tightly sealed glass jar. It will keep for up to three months.
Makes about ⅔ cup