As a native Houstonian, I had at least heard of most of the buffet staples featured in The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, but a few were completely new to me, reminders that Texas has never been strictly Southern. What was red rice, for example? Spicy, tomato-spiked rice with a sprinkling of bacon sounded promising enough, but what really intrigued me was the suggestion that red rice made an excellent omelet filling.
I have never gotten the hang of omelets, so I decided to try red rice in a frittata, in the spirit of Marcella Hazan's pasta-stuffed version. The result was an unusual but hearty egg dish perfect for a winter meal. It should serve four, I know, but since I easily wolfed down half of it myself while standing at the stove, I've adjusted the yield accordingly.
I also adjusted the Lee brothers' recipe so as to avoid using the blender. To tell the truth, I think you could also skip the step of baking the rice in the oven, as long as you finish cooking your rice on top of the stove; it wasn't clear to me what value the baking added.
You'll end up with much more rice than you need for the frittata, so it may make sense to serve this rice as a side dish for dinner and then use the leftovers at brunch. Maybe it was because the rice's tomato and spice reminded me vaguely of cocktail sauce, but I wanted to eat this with boiled shrimp and a big, lemony romaine salad.
- Yield:2-3, with rice to spare
- 3 ounces slab bacon or 2 slices thick-cut bacon cut into small dice
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
- 2 cups chicken broth or water
- 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon pimentón or paprika
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, fry the bacon until firm and barely crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, for a minute or two, until fragrant and slightly translucent.
Add the broth or water, tomatoes, pepper flakes, pimentón, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then cover and turn the flame as low as possible. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender but still soupy. If not soupy, add more broth or water a tablespoon at a time.
Pour the cooked rice into an 8 x 8 baking dish and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15-25 minutes, or until all the liquid had been absorbed. At this point, you can proceed to the next step or cool and refrigerate the rice.
Preheat your broiler. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet and stir in about a third of your rice. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper. When the rice is heated through, add the eggs to the skillet and quickly stir to combine the rice and eggs evenly. Turn the heat to medium low and cook, rotating the skillet every once in a while, until the frittata has firmed up around the edges, about 10 minutes.