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Red Rice



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Sunday, November 12, 2000

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Vine Ripened Tomatoes
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Red Rice
Hoppin' John's Charleston, Beaufort and Savannah: Dining at Home in the Lowcountry
by John Martin Taylor, 1997, Clarkson Potter

"It has been said that to know Charleston is to know rice, and this simple tomato pilau (pronounced PERloe, PiLOE, or PERloo) is one of the classic dishes of the old city of rice planters. Self-respecting Charleston cooks make this with beautiful, local vine-ripened tomatoes, available throughout the summer and fall. In winter months, you may be better off using canned. An adulterated version including tomato paste appeared in the Junior League’s ‘Charleston Receipts’ of 1950. This older, simpler version is truer to the original ‘receipt’, as recipes are still called in Charleston, with olive oil replacing the traditional bacon."

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups long-grain white rice

2 cups vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 can crushed tomatoes (14˝ ounces)

1˝ teaspoons salt

1 quart chicken stock, preferably homemade

2 to 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Place the oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat, add the rice, and sauté, stirring constantly. It will begin to turn white after a few minutes; do not let it scorch or brown. Add the tomatoes and continue to sauté until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the salt and the stock and simmer slowly, covered, for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes. Just before serving, fluff the rice with a large fork as you fold in the chopped parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

Variations (not from the above cookbook):

Use 4 ounces bacon instead of the olive oil. Fry the bacon and drain it. Use the bacon grease in place of the olive oil. Add cooked, crumbled bacon toward the end of the cooking time.

Add ˝ cup chopped onion. Sauté the onions along with the rice.

Add 1 teaspoon sugar and Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste.

Some southern cooks prefer to bake the rice (45 minutes to 1 hour at 350° F.)


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