When the weather finally gets that late fall feel, you know the holidays are approaching as your culinary thoughts turn to comfort food.
There is nothing wrong with a traditional ham or roast turkey, but there are a world of side options to choose from too. Most often people go for grandmothers’ favorites such as green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, or deviled eggs. But why not try something different this year? I have a recipe for rice, sausage, and shrimp that is Cajun-inspired, very simple to make, and absolutely delicious when made with the most local ingredients.
My hands-down pick for rice is Two Brooks. Two Brooks is located in the Mississippi Delta and is owned and operated by my friend, Mike Wagner. Mike is an extraordinary farmer who goes to great lengths to be good to Mother Earth. All of Mike’s equipment is tracked, not the standard tractor tires you mostly see. Tracks don’t bog down like tires do, and when a vehicle bogs down it has to be pulled out and the field repaired, all of which costs more diesel fuel. Smart right? At the end of the season, after the rice is harvested, many farmers burn the stubble that is left but that pollutes. Others turn the stubble under, but that, again, uses fuel. Mike floods his fields, which attracts tens of thousands of waterfowl. The birds eat and trample the stubble, and they also enrich the fields with their waste. Mike uses 30% less fertilizer than other farmers. Smart again. Two Brooks rice is simply the best.
For shrimp, I of course love Mississippi wild-caught shrimp from Desporte Seafood in Biloxi. They have been in business for generations and have been my favorite for years. For sausage, there is only one choice for me, Alabama-made hickory smoked Conecuh sausage. I wouldn’t use anything but Conecuh in my gumbo, jambalaya and it also makes a great po-boy.
To put this dish together is really simple. Saute the sliced sausage in oil until brown, remove, and set aside. Add the shrimp and quickly cook them over medium heat for about two minutes. Remove and set aside. Without removing any of the oil and drippings, add the rice, a good sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and toast over medium heat, then add the appropriate amount of chicken stock (it’s a two-to-one ratio), cover, and steam for about 20 minutes. Combine everything, and you are done. The smoky sausage goes so well with the spicy rice and shrimp. I think you will love it!