Cast-iron pots and pans have a long-standing tradition in American cookery, and Lodge Cast Iron has stood the test of time. I’m excited about a new project that I just completed with this great company, and will be sharing that information very soon. I did a promotion with Lodge Manufacturing Company last year for The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook — named after this Tennessee foundry that has been making them for more than 100 years. It features classic recipes from cornbread to Julia Reed’s Succotash. Steven Satterfield, executive chef and owner of Atlanta’s Miller Union, shared his Southern-coastal approach to paella, one of my favorite dishes made with fresh Gulf Coast Seafood. Red Rice, a quintessential Southern favorite, has been around for more than 300 years. Time tested and with many versions, it appeared in the eariest cookbooks in Savannah and Charleston.
Satterfield says, “A few things are crucial to the final flavor of the dish. The first is using Carolina Gold rice, an heirloom variety of long-grain rice that is hand-harvested by its producer Anson Mills. Sautéing the rice in fat for a good five minutes helps to infuse flavor into the individual grains. Lastly, no peeking while the rice is cooking — the covered cast-iron pot is key to the development of the crust on the bottom.”
You can order Carolina Gold Rice from Anson Mills here, or give this dish a whirl using your favorite paella rice.
Savannah Red Rice
By chef Steven Satterfield of Miller Union, featured in The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook
4 tablespoons bacon drippings
5 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced celery (inner leaves included)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
2 cups canned organic whole plum tomatoes (undrained and chopped)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons pepper vinegar or cider vinegar (if you use cider vinegar, add a pinch of red pepper flakes)
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 dried chiles de arbol, chopped (or a pinch of red pepper flakes)
2 cups long-grain rice, such as Carolina Gold
3/4 pound andouille or chorizo sausage, grilled and sliced 1⁄2-inch thick
1 1/2 pounds shrimp (peeled, deveined, and cut into bite-sized pieces)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons bacon drippings and 2 tablespoons butter. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion and garlic are tender. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper, along with the thyme, bay leaves, and chiles. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes, tasting for seasoning.
In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add remaining 2 tablespoons bacon drippings and 2 tablespoons butter and cook until foamy. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until it is opaque (about 5 minutes). This step is very important to the final flavor of the dish, so don’t skimp on the time — but also don’t let the rice burn.
Add 4 cups of the tomato mixture to the rice. Stir and cover. Set a timer and cook the rice for 25 minutes over very low heat. Do not lift the lid. After 25 minutes, turn off the heat and let the rice stand for 5 more minutes. Again, do not lift the lid. While the rice cooks, add the sausage to the remaining tomato mixture in the pan. Cover and keep warm over very low heat.
While the rice stands, in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter until foamy. Add the shrimp, stirring just until cooked through. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper. Combine the shrimp to the sausage and tomato mixture. Stir well.
Pour the shrimp and sausage mixture over the rice. Remove and discard bay leaves. Without breaking the grains, gently fluff the rice. Serve immediately.