Braised Bacon Rice

Recently, I have been flipping through a few random cookbooks where I had recipes flagged.  One such cookbook was done by a Top Chef contestant and is called Smoke and Pickles.  It features an updated take on southern cooking, an area of cooking where I have not done much experimenting, but was eager to try.  I found this recipe for braised bacon rice, and while I didn’t see a photo in the cookbook of the recipe, it looked yummy.  I was also pleased because I had the opportunity to incorporate some more cayenne pepper into my cooking, something that this midwestern gal is sometimes apprehensive to do, to say the least.

I was delighted by this recipe.  It had great flavor and with the hint of spiciness at the end of the dish.  It was nice and creamy, almost comfort food-like, and in the heat of the summer, it was a great option for on the stovetop.

Braised Bacon Rice

Braised Bacon Rice

8 oz slab bacon, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 1/2 c chopped onions
1 c chopped celery, plus 2 Tbsp chopped celery leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
4 c chicken stock
1/2 c tomato juice
1 c long-grain rice
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the bacon in a large pot over low heat until it has rendered most of its fat, about 5 minutes.  Add the onions, chopped celery, and the garlic and cook about 6 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.

Add the mustard, cayenne, and paprika and stir, then add the chicken stock and tomato juice and bring to a boil.  Add the rice, stir, and lower the heat to a slow simmer.  Let the rice cook, uncovered, for about 16 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the chopped celery leaves, butter, and salt and pepper to taste to the rice.  Turn off the heat and let the rice stand for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve hot.

Wild Rice Stuffing

Being the day after Valentine’s Day and a couple months away from Easter, we’ve got a lot of holiday cooking which sticks out.  It’s still winter, and so I am still thinking a little bit about some of my favorite winter holiday recipes.  Although this recipe was first found in a Cooking Light magazine at Thanksgiving time a few years ago, it has become one of my favorite rice side dishes.  It is often a more fall/harvest-inspired recipe, but that wouldn’t stop me from making it at just about any time of the year.  Sometimes it’s nice to have a side dish that isn’t potoato-based.  In those days, wild rice pilaf is a nice addition.  It doesn’t hurt that like me, wild rice is a major crop in Minnesota.

I’ve also brought this recipe for potluck meals. Cooking it the night before, I’ve reheated it the next day in the crockpot with an additional cup or two of chicken stock.

Also, instead of separate wild rice and brown rice, I generally use Uncle Ben’s long grain rice & wild rice blend and cook that separate while sautéing the celery, onion, garlic, etc.

Wild Rice Stuffing

Cooking spray

1 1/2 cups chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup uncooked wild rice

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice

1/2 cup dried sweet cherries

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add celery, onion, wild rice, and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in broth and sage; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes. Stir in brown rice, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook for 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in cherries and remaining ingredients.