The South is known for its way with rice-based dishes, but only one has been labeled as the defining dish of the Georgia coast. Savannah Red Rice is essentially a pilaf (also known as pilau, perloo, perlou, and so forth), in which long-grain rice simmers in a well-seasoned broth until tender and delectable. It’s simple, but when this dish is well made, the bright, acidic tomatoes and smoky bacon give it a complex, yet subtle flavor. The rice on top will be fluffy and separate while the grains on the bottom of the pot develop a crisp crust. The secret to getting this magical mix of textures is to resist the temptation to lift the lid and stir the ingredients during cooking. To avoid that mistake, follow this recipe, which has you bake the rice in the low, even heat of the oven instead. Leaving it covered for a few minutes before serving improves the textures as well. This savory, slightly spicy baked rice recipe can stand on its own as a main dish or work as a hearty side served along with chicken, shrimp, or pork.
5 bacon slices
2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
1/2 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (from 1 small bell pepper)
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 (16-oz.) can chopped whole tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium until crisp, about 8 minutes; transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.
Add yellow onion, celery, and bell pepper to reserved drippings in skillet; increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
Stir in rice, tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Spoon into a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake in preheated oven until rice is tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Top with crumbled bacon.