Betty Anderson’s Jalapeno-Horseradish Butter

Darcey Anderson’s mother, Betty, still lives on her family’s ancestral home, the Pines, in North Louisiana’s Sabine Parish. Bordering on Texas, it’s a part of the country with a fascinating history, a region controlled by Spain longer than by France.

Later it was the northern section of the Neutral Strip, a lawless land governed by neither Spain nor the United States. You had to be tough to survive and prosper in the Neutral Strip. Betty’s family, the Belmonts, were tough. Darcey’s father, William Anderson, was equally strong. Darcey comes from good stock.

William was fond of spicy food. The hotter the better was his philosophy. Betty came to share her husband’s taste and was happy to prepare meals to suit. It was the food Darcey ate as she was growing up.

Like many country women, Betty keeps a garden. She raises the usual produce. Collards. Onions. Carrots. Jalapenos. Horseradish root. Yes. Horseradish root. A few gardeners in the parish raise jalapenos or other peppers. Betty is probably the only one growing horseradish root. And it is one of her favorite ingredients.

After she lost her husband, Betty assuaged her grief and occupied her time by joining several clubs in the small town near the Pines.

“You’ll join any club that will let you be president, Mom,” Darcey teased.

Betty laughed and said her daughter was right.

Betty especially liked the Red Hat organization when it came along. Under their rules, if you form a chapter you get to be queen for life. Betty immediately formed a club.

Like many who live alone and lead busy lives, Betty likes to prepare dishes that will give her multiple meals. She often uses a slow cooker when she will be gone for several hours. With the slow cooker, dinner will be ready when she gets home.

Knowing she would be in town most of the day, Betty put a beef chuck roast in the slow cooker. When she got home, it would be fork tender and delicious.

She wanted a sauce to accompany it. Something spicy. She had some horseradish root harvested the previous fall and, thanks to a warm winter, a few jalapenos recently picked. She decided on a jalapeno-horseradish butter.

Roast beef with Betty Anerson’s Jalapeno-Horseradish Butter

With the roast in the slow cooker beginning its day long adventure, she put a head of garlic and a jalapeno in the oven to roast while she got dressed. She would make up the sauce when she got home.

Betty Anderson’s Jalapeno-Horseradish Butter

1 head garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 jalapeno

1 tablespoon grated horseradish

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

salt to taste

To roast the garlic, preheat the oven to 400. Cut the tip of the head just enough to expose the ends of the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Place it on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Lay a jalapeno alongside the garlic. Roast for about forty minutes.

To prepare the spicy butter, squeeze five garlic cloves out of their skins. Save the remainder of the garlic for use another day. Add the roasted cloves to the softened butter.

Mince the roasted jalapeno and add it, along with the grated horseradish root, to the butter. Toss in the lemon zest and salt to taste.

e garlic, minced jalapeno, grated horseradish, lemon zest, and butter well. You can put the mixture in a food processor or blender, if you wish, for a smoother sauce.

To serve, place a dollop of the seasoned butter on a slice of hot roast beef. Allow the butter to melt, letting the seasonings seep into the meat.

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Pork Tenderloin with a Spicy Sauce

April 26, 2019 – I love pork. The tenderloin is one of my favorite cuts. What am I saying? I can’t think of anything pork that I don’t love! Well, trotters don’t really do much for me, but other than that I love pork.

I also enjoy experimenting with sauces. I like to include ingredients that would be unexpected. That would not ordinarily be thought of in the company of the other ingredients. And I like my sauces on the spicy side. Way over on the spicy side. This one will be as spicy as you want to make it.

I had a pork tenderloin. It was .93 pound. The cooking time in my recipe is based on a tenderloin of that size. You can adjust the time accordingly to match the weight of the tenderloin you are preparing.

First, a marinade. I decided to marinate my pork in the refrigerator over night.

The sauce I made was uncooked. It took no more than ten minutes or so to put it together. I also made it the day before. When it came time to prepare the meal, there was very little work to do.

Be careful to avoid overcooking pork. While it’s delicious when properly cooked, it can become dry and tasteless if it’s overdone.

And yes, I know it’s not a good picture. I’m using it anyway because it is such a great dish.

Pork Tenderloin with Sauce

1 pork tenderloin

Marinade: 2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Marinate the tenderloin for several hours.

Sauce: 1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 cup ketchup

1 1/4 teaspoon horseradish (or to taste)

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons sour cream

To cook the tenderloin: 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450.

Add a small amount of olive oil to a heavy skillet. You want a tablespoon or so. No more. Just enough to keep the tenderloin from sticking. Brown the pork over medium heat for about four minutes. Turn it over and brown the other side for about three minutes.

Place the tenderloin in an open, oven proof dish and roast for about fourteen minutes. Let it rest for five to ten minutes after removing it from the oven. Keep in mind that the meat will continue to cook from its own internal heat for a few minutes after it comes out of the oven.

Slice the tenderloin thinly on the diagonal. Drizzle some of the sauce over the meat before serving.

Bon temps!

Roasted Onions

February 22, 2019 – This one is so simple I’m almost embarrassed to write it up. Almost.

I planned on roasting a chicken and was thinking of an accompaniment that wouldn’t require too much effort. Somewhere I read about roasting whole onions in their skin. Sounded like it was worth a try.

I chose fairly large, red onions. Using a fork, I poked holes around each onion so it wouldn’t explode.

I put the onions around the chicken and slid bird and vegetables together into a pre-heated 425 oven. For the size of the chicken, one hour at that temperature was perfect.

When the onions are done, cut them in half. Add a little butter with salt and pepper to taste. I also added a little file’ just because. It added a subtle, exotic flavor. That’s completely optional unless, of course, you’re from Louisiana and believe that file’ can go with anything.

Roasted onions accompanying a roast chicken.

So here’s the recipe, if it can really be called a recipe.

Roasted Onions

1 large onion per person, unpeeled

2 tablespoons butter per onion

salt & pepper to taste

File’ (optional)

Using a fork, poke holes all around the onions so they don’t explode.

Place them around the chicken or whatever meat you’re preparing. Let them roast alongside the meat.

When done, slice the onions in half. Let a tablespoon of butter melt on each half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

A dusting of file’ is optional.

Bon temps!


Folsom Palace Asian Bistro

February 6, 2019 – I have always thought serendipity provides spice to life. In that vein, sometimes you stumble into a small restaurant that turns out to be a jewel. Such is the case with Folsom Palace Asian Bistro in El Dorado Hills, the second in a small, locally owned chain.

Chef Bill Zheng opened the first Folsom Palace in, of all places, Folsom several years ago. In August of last year, he added a second location in El Dorado Hills.

Bright and colorful paper lanterns add an Asian-inspired feel.

My assistant and I had several errands to tend. I normally take a short break from work and don’t go out for lunch. But it had been raining for several days. It was still cold but that doesn’t mean much to an Alaska-raised guy. The sun was bright. It was the first nice day in a week. We were already out so I suggested that we have lunch.

I didn’t have any place particular in mind. We went about our business and, in the course of doing so, saw this small restaurant, with the now several months old Grand Opening sign still hanging from the awning over the sidewalk. It looked like a friendly enough place. We decided to give it a try.

Smart move.

We found room happily buzzing with several diners and an open kitchen in the background. The multi-colored paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling provided a bright, Asian-inspired atmosphere. Both the hostess who tended us and the manager who stopped by our table were friendly, efficient, and welcoming.

And then there was the food!

My assistant has a fondness for pork-stuffed steamed buns. She had mentioned them many times. And there they were on the menu! She couldn’t resist.

Pork-stuffed steamed buns.

I opted for a lunch special, which began with a passable hot and sour soup. For the main course, I chose Sichuan Prawns. The large shrimp came cooked in a slightly spicy sauce with mild red peppers, zucchini, onion, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger. In a nod toward fusion, slices of chayote were included in the mix. A generous helping of fried rice accompanied the entrée and was made even better by mixing it with some of the sauce.

Sichuan prawns.

Brightly colored decorations, a friendly staff, and food that was not only delicious but fit the bright mood of the day. Folsom Palace Asian Bistro deserves a return visit!

Cinnamon Seafood Pasta Sauce a la Nancy Patrick

 

Cinnamon Seafood Pasta Sauce

October 31, 2018 – In the soon to be released Neighbors and Other Strangers, Trent Marshall travels to San Francisco to visit Darcey Anderson.  Our adventurous twosome  become friends with Christopher Booth and Nancy Patrick, another couple who happen to both be Bay area homicide detectives.  Before long all four are caught up in another adventure with a potential deadly outcome.

Nancy isn’t much of a cook when the couples meet but she’s anxious to learn.  She  begins an apprenticeship under Darcey’s tutelage.  Nancy is a quick study and is soon experimenting on her own with various spices and ingredients.

One evening, with assistance from Darcey, she presented her first creation, which she called Cinnamon Seafood Pasta.  Though the diners were at first leery at what sounded like incompatible ingredients, they politely tasted the dish.   Politeness was swept aside after a few bites.  Plates were quickly clean and the diners were asking for seconds.

Shrimp, of course, are remarkably versatile.  They mate well with most ingredients.  Smoked salmon and cinnamon, though wonderful in themselves, don’t necessarily seem to be as versatile.  Think again!  The pieces of smoked salmon seasoned with cinnamon, add a bijou treat.  Small and elegant.

Another deliciously real recipe from a fictional character.

Nancy Patrick’s Cinnamon Seafood Pasta Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

1 pound shrimp, shelled & deveined

6 ounces smoked wild caught salmon, torn into small pieces

juice of one lemon

1 14 1/2 can diced tomatoes

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon cinnamon

salt & pepper to taste

spaghetti or linguine

Warm two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet.  When hot but not smoking, saute’ shrimp until it is pink, about three to five minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine remaining olive, lemon juice, tomatoes, smoked salmon, and shallots in a bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Turn the tomato mixture into the skillet in which the shrimp were cooked.  Add the cinnamon.  Cook over medium heat until the sauce is hot, five to ten minutes.

Return the shrimp to the skillet.  Stir to mix the shrimp into the sauce.  Heat briefly, no more than two or three minutes.

Serve over your choice of pasta, preferably spaghetti or linquine.

 

Darcey Anderson’s Sausage Ragout

Darcey Anderson’s Sausage Ragout

October 22, 2018 – Like me, Darcey Anderson, my fictional character in The Empty Mint Mystery and the soon to be released Neighbors and Other Strangers, was born in northwest Louisiana.  As a child, she ate the food prevalent in that part of the world.  Fried chicken.  Pork chops.  Fried catfish.  Black-eyed peas, collard greens, and corn bread.

The dishes of south Louisiana also found their way to the Anderson table.  Gumbo.  Red beans and rice.  Jambalaya.  Crawfish etouffee. Oyster and shrimp po’ boys.

When I was still a boy, my parents moved us to Alaska.  There we remained faithful to the southern food we loved but we also quickly began to enjoy the bountiful seafood of the Northland.  Salmon.  Halibut.  King crab.

Darcey was introduced to new foods when she attended the Interior Design School in London and, after graduation, moved to San Francisco.  Like me, she never lost her love of southern food but enthusiastically embraced the dishes of the other cultures with which she came in contact.

San Francisco’s most iconic dish, of course, is cioppino, that delightful seafood stew created by Italian fishermen many decades ago.  You can find Darcey’s cioppino recipe posted on my author’s blog, gordonparkerbooks.com/blog/.

On this evening, Darcey was also thinking Italian.  But pork, not seafood.  More specifically, a sausage ragout.  A spicy stew with hot and sweet sausages, hot and sweet peppers.  And to bind it all together with a touch of silkiness, a little cream cheese swirled into the finished product.

This is excellent served with the pasta of your choice.  Darcey prefers rotini.

Note:  Darcey Anderson might be a fictional character but her sausage ragout is for real!

Darcey Anderson’s Sausage Ragout

3 links sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1 inch slices

3 links hot Italian sausage, cut into 1 inch slices

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, minced (or any hot pepper)

2 roasted red peppers

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 14-1/2 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup parsley, minced

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup cream cheese

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet or braising pan.  When the oil is hot but not smoking, put in  the sausages.  Stirring occasionally, let the sausage cook until all the pieces are nicely browned.

Add the onion and jalapeno.  Cook until the vegetables have softened and are beginning to take on color, about five minutes.

Toss in the roasted red peppers and garlic.  Stir to combine all the ingredients.  Continue cooking for another three or four minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes and red wine along with the parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let the ragout simmer on moderately low heat for about half an hour.

Sausage Ragout

Taking the pan off the heat, swirl in the cream cheese, continuing to stir until it has melted and is combined with the finished ragout.

Chunky Chicken Curry Soup

October 10, 2018 – Yeah, I know. I’ve written about chicken curry already.  This recipe is not the same.

And yeah, I know the title is a corny alliteration.  Something to be avoided in writing whenever possible.  Considered flashy and too clever by far.

But it was my mother’s birthday.  Though she’s been gone for two years, I felt like celebrating.  And she was flashy.  She was clever.  She was colorful.  She squeezed every bit of life from each minute she was given here with us.

Mother loved being the center of attention.  I often teased her, telling her she would join any club that let her be president.  She laughed at that and admitted it was true.  Mother liked to be in charge.  So do I.

Mother loved to entertain.  She gave great parties.  So do I.  For many years, I hosted the only Mardi Gras party in Anchorage, shipping live crawfish up from New Orleans and eventually finding the only Dixieland jazz band in Alaska.

Every year I named someone king or queen of Mardi Gras.  I never saw Mother more proud than the year she was queen.  And never was a reign more elegant.

Queen of the Anchorage Mardi Gras

In Baton Rouge, I hosted a cochon de lait, a pig roast, each fall.  Given that both of us wanted to be in charge, I had to find something for her to do.  Potato salad, I thought.  Mother made the world’s best potato salad.  That became her responsibility.  Potato salad for fifty guests.

God help you if you didn’t eat her potato salad!  She kept a close eye on how much the guests put on their plates as they passed through the line.  She was even known to wander through the tables to check plates.  If she noticed a plate with what appeared to be too much of her potato salad left on it, the diner could expect to hear, “What’s the matter?  You don’t like my potato salad?”

And I know she was proud of me.  I never saw her more so than when I sent her the manuscript of my first novel.  She was already gone when The Empty Mint Mystery was published but I can feel her delight.  And now, with Neighbors and Other Strangers due to be released within the next few weeks, I can see her face beaming with that irresistible smile.

My mother was colorful and fun.  I miss her.  And it was her birthday.  I wanted to celebrate.

She always supported my heuristic nature, especially when it comes to food.  I want to experiment, to prepare new dishes myself.  When I was in the kitchen she was happy to play a supporting role as I tried new things.

This year I decided to make a chicken curry soup.  Curry isn’t a spice with which I’ve had a lot of experience but I had some on hand.  I had the breasts from a roast chicken.  Why not?

So I celebrated my mother’s birthday with a French 75 and a pot of exotic soup.  She would have enjoyed the evening.

A French 75 and chicken curry soup

Chicken Curry Soup

6 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

3 small Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons curry powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar

5 cups stock

6 sprigs parsley

2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup uncooked rice

1 cup half & half or heavy cream

12 ounces frozen green peas

Salt & pepper to taste

In a stock pot with a heavy bottom, melt the butter.  Saute’ the onion and potatoes seasoned with the curry powder and brown sugar.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook over low heat for about fifteen minutes.  Give the vegetables a stir  around the halfway mark.

Add the chicken, parsley, rice, and stock.  Bring the liquid to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for about half an hour.

Stir in the half and half, or cream, with the peas.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Simmer for another fifteen minutes.

Bon temps!

And happy birthday, Mother!

And yet another casserole…all vegetables

October 2, 2018 – It should be clear by now that I am a child of the ’50s.  I’ve certainly written enough about casseroles to make the point.

I am a fan of casseroles for the same reason that motivated the dominant generation of the last century.  It was a time when our lifestyle was undergoing significant change.  The old days of one person in the family working outside the home and the second tending the house and children were rapidly disappearing.  More and more it was becoming necessary for both husband and wife to take paying jobs.  And still the family must be fed.

Casseroles were, and are, an easy answer.  They’re easy to throw together, most anything in the pantry or refrigerator can go into them, they can be prepared relatively quickly in advance, and, when working parents get home, an hour or so in the oven produces dinner.  They also have the added benefit of using up any leftover bits of food that might otherwise be wasted.

Vegetable Casserole

I had a beautiful ribeye calling to me and wanted an accompaniment.  But I had a busy day ahead.  When the sun was over the yardarm late in the afternoon, I wanted to enjoy a flute of Prosecco.  I didn’t want to be standing in front of the stove.

What did I have that could be prepared earlier in the day?  All kinds of vegetables, both fresh and frozen.  Oh yeah, either works well.  I had a head of broccoli, a handful of Brussels sprouts, and a potato.  There were also half bags of green beans and pearl onions in the freezer.  And cheese.  Always some form of cheese.  To add a little depth of flavor, a poblano pepper.

I cut the broccoli flowerets away from the stalk.  The Brussels sprouts were trimmed and cut into halves.  The potato I cut into bite size pieces, leaving the skin on.  I chopped the poblano also into bite size pieces.

If you’re using fresh vegetables, brown them a bit in olive oil.  Frozen vegetables can be tossed in as is.

To bind it all together, I made a Béchamel sauce seasoned with the poblano pepper.  A nice touch.

I used Mozzarella cheese because it’s what I had and I like it.  Any grated cheese will be fine.

There is nothing sacred about the ingredients I used.  They were just some of my favorites, some things I had on hand.  They worked for me.

The final result was a cheesy, gooey bit of deliciousness, a perfect side to a rare ribeye.

Vegetable Casserole

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided (more if needed)

1/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

Flowerets from one head of broccoli

1 poblano pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 cups milk

1 russet potato with skin on, cut into bite size pieces

6 ounces frozen green beans

6 ounces frozen pearl onions

2 – 3 cups grated cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

In a skillet with a heavy bottom,  warm two tablespoons of olive oil over moderate heat.  Saute’ the Brussels sprouts and broccoli flowerets until they begin to brown.  It’ll probably take about four minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

Add two more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.  When it is heated, saute’ the poblano pieces until they begin to soften, about three or four minutes.

Add two tablespoons of flour and stir to make a roux.  Don’t let it darken.  When the flour and oil are incorporated, add the milk, increasing the heat to high.  Stir continuously as the Béchamel begins to thicken.  When the sauce has reached the desired thickness, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat.

Place the Brussels sprouts, broccoli, potato, green beans, and pearl onions in an oven proof dish with a tight cover.  Add grated cheese to taste and the Béchamel sauce.  Mix well.

Molly is ever hopeful for a bite of steak but will settle for one of her treats if she must!

Cover with a generous amount of additional grated cheese.

Bake, covered, at 350 for an hour.

Bon temps!

 

 

Char Siu: Roast Pork in the Style of Canton

September 8, 2018 – Writing this blog for the past few years has been an education for me.  I have repeatedly noted here that I’m not a chef, nor am I an expert on the foods of the diverse countries and cultures about which I write.  Well, I do know a little about Louisiana cooking and am a fair hand at preparing Alaska salmon and king crab.  But other than the foods of my two home states, it’s strictly a never-ending learning process.

What I do is research and experiment.  I have always been fascinated about how the dishes we know and love were developed.  I have learned that most of the comfort foods we enjoy in our various home countries also appear among the dishes favored in most other parts of the world.  Certainly there are differences, but I can’t think of a culture that doesn’t have mom’s chicken soup or meat wrapped in some form of bread to create a fast food sandwich.

And that preamble brings us to Char Siu, roast pork in the style of Canton.

Canton, or more properly Guangzhou, is in southern China about 70 miles northwest of Hong Kong.  The roast pork to which Canton has given its name is known for its red color and deep penetration of flavor as a result of marinating the meat.

Char Siu, I learned, means fork roasted, the original method of preparing the pork over an open fire.  These days it’s more often simply oven roasted, though sometimes it is finished on a grill to give it a little bit of char.

It’s no surprise that I found several variations on the marinade ingredients.  All, however, included hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and five spice powder.  The traditional red color is usually achieved with either food coloring or red bean paste.

I don’t like to use food coloring and didn’t have red bean paste in the pantry.  Fortunately, I found more than one recipe that achieved the same result with ketchup.  That’s not heresy when we consider that ketchup originated in China.  It reached North America by way of Malaysia.  It was in that southeast Asian nation that ketchup was refined to something closely resembling the tomato based sauce with which we in America are prone to slather our French fries.  And by the way, ketchup is the word closest to the original Chinese name for the sauce.

This is the kind of dish Trent Marshall and Darcey Anderson would love.  Stop by gordonparkerbooks.com to see what they’re up to.  Their next adventure will be out soon!

Here’s my version of char siu, which I served over rice.

Char Siu

Char Siu, Cantonese Style Barbequed Pork Served Over Rice

1 pork shoulder (about 2 pounds)

1 roasted red pepper, chopped

4 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon five spice powder

Slice the pork into thin, bite size pieces.

Make the marinade by combining all the other ingredients.  Pour the mixture over the pork strips and marinate for at least three hours.  The longer the meat marinates, the better the char siu.  Overnight in the refrigerator makes it truly great.

Spread the pork with the marinade in a roasting pan.  Cook in an oven pre-heated to 350 for about 35 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Excellent served over rice.

Bon temps!

 

Spicy Sausage-Rice Casserole

August 19, 2018 – I’m as busy working now as I’ve been in a long time.  And it feels great!

Dividing the hours of my days among continuing to push for legislation in Washington, D.C., that is good for rural and Bush Alaska (good for all of rural America, for that matter), promoting my first novel, The Empty Mint Mystery (gordonparkerbooks.com), and going through the second book to get it ready for the publisher (watch for Trent Marshall and Darcey Anderson’s next adventure coming soon!), there isn’t a lot of time left to create great meals.

But next to say, oh, a French 75 or some other equally delicious cocktail when the sun, as my Navy Seabee uncle always proclaimed, has gone over the yardarm, there’s nothing I like better than a good dinner.  No, make that a great dinner.

So when time is short, I revert to the ’50s, that golden era of the casserole.  They can be put together quickly using whatever is in the refrigerator or the pantry and they cook themselves relatively unsupervised.  Perfect meals ready at the end of a busy day.

Spicy Sausage-Rice Casserole

This dish starts, as do so many of my culinary experiments, with what in Louisiana we call the Trinity:  onion, sweet peppers, celery.  It’s our version of the classic mirepoix.

I like to season in layers, so the first seasoning occurs after the Trinity has had a chance to cook down a bit and the vegetables are beginning to soften.  Use salt cautiously in this dish, however, as the sausages will provide a good bit of their own and the stock I used for the rice was also seasoned.  Except for a light dusting over the Trinity, I didn’t add any salt at all.

I used a combination of uncooked sausage links, including plain pork as well as both hot and sweet Italian.  Ground bulk sausage would have been easier but I seldom have that on hand.  I wouldn’t deign to advise you on which to use.  But I will say the effort to cut through the casings and turn the uncooked links into ground sausage is measured in seconds.  It’s not that big a chore.

The hot Italian sausage added heat to the dish.  But I wanted more.  Real heat!  And I thought a touch of acid would bring out even more of the flavors.  So I added a handful of pickled jalapenos.  Oh yeah!  Now we’re talking!

I like to cook rice in a stock, or at least well-seasoned water.  I used chicken stock for this dish because, of course, it’s what I had.  Pork stock would be even better.

While we’re talking about stock, I never throw bones away.  Chicken, pork, beef.  Any bones go into the stock pot with some onion, celery, maybe lemon, whatever seasonings that sound good on stock-making day.  There’s always a bowl of stock in my refrigerator.  If you make it yourself, it’ll be better than you can buy at a store, not to mention cheaper.

And here’s a bonus she suggested with this casserole:  If there are leftovers, make

Patties from left over spicy sausage-rice casserole. Great with a fried egg on top!

sausage-rice patties and fry them up.  Great with a fried egg on top!

So here’s my Spicy Sausage-Rice Casserole for the end of a busy work day.

Spicy Sausage-Rice Casserole

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 roasted red pepper, chopped

1 rib celery, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 tablespoon garlic powder

Salt & pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds ground sausage (mixed plain pork, hot Italian, sweet Italian)

2 tablespoons pickled jalapeno, minced

1 cup uncooked rice

5 cups stock, boiling

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a heavy oven-friendly skillet or braising pan, heat the  olive oil over moderate heat.

Saute’ the onion, roasted red pepper, and celery in the olive oil until the vegetables begin to soften.  Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Add the sausage and pickled jalapeno.  Stir to combine.  Break up any clumps of sausage as the meat browns.

Add the raw rice and mix well with the browned sausage and vegetables.

Pour in the boiling stock and stir to combine.

Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes.

Bon temps!