Rice As A Staple

The joke around our house of 10 children was that Mom started the rice then decided what else we would have for dinner. Rice was an inexpensive and filling staple found in ample quantities in every grocery in the state. Louisiana is said to have been the leader in making rice a part of the American diet when a conversion of the wheat harvester to rice allowed for the mass growing of rice. (Mom’s great uncle was the farmer that made that design modification. Unfortunately, he failed to patent his re-design; had he, I might be writing from Paris instead of Houston. Haha)
Rice is like pasta except better because it more fully absorbs whatever flavors it accompanies. So it becomes whatever it is combined with, and the combinations are unlimited.

Yes, I realize our Paleo and low carb friends may blanch at my suggestion that rice, be it white, brown or wild, is an appropriate addition to one’s diet. My view is this: I do limit the starches, but if your system grew up with them as mine did, and if you combine them with good proteins and complex carbs, then trust me, you can splurge now and then down memory lane.

I start with my favorite “work your way through college on a skinny budget” version of white rice which is butter, sprinkled with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cheap, delicious and filling. From there, consider Mom’s “Monday is laundry day” special of red beans and rice. If she was feeling flush, she would add a smoked ham hock. If Dad got a raise, she would celebrate by adding some Andouille. Meat! Whoopee! At Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was always Louisiana Dirty Rice that stuffed the turkey. Delicious.

You can vary the additions with all sorts of beans and southern peas – pintos, butter beans, blackeyes, purple hulls. Same with the meats you can mix in. Any sausage or hock but also your ground beef or pork. Leftover pot roast, shredded into the rice with whatever veggie you like. Are you getting the idea here? So here’s my latest rice as a side dish that incorporates a plethora of vegetables.

JVF