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Shrimp and Sausage Red Rice

I found this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and tried it this weekend -- fantastic!  So thought I'd share it with all of you (along with my notes).  It's not fast (takes about an hour to an hour and 15) but worth it!

Shrimp and Sausage Red Rice

3 Tbsp bacon drippings (I didn't have any, so just used olive oil.  Bet it would be even better with the smoky bacon flavor from the drippings, though)
1/2 Cup chopped onion
1/2 Cup chopped green sweet pepper
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional) (I put it in -- like the spiciness!)
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 14.5-oz can petite diced or crushed tomatoes**
1 rounded Tbsp tomato paste
2 Cups chicken stock or water
1 Tbsp butter
1 Cup long grain rice
8 oz. andouille or cooked, smoked chorizo sausage, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
1 Cup sliced fresh okra -- use small whole okra pods with the stem end trimmed (we were up in the mountains and the little grocery store up there didn't have okra, so I left it out -- it was great anyway) 
1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp

1.  In a large skillet heat bacon drippings.  Add onion; cook over medium-low heat without stirring for 5 minutes.  Add the sweet pepper, jalapeno, garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper.  Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until onion and pepper are soft but not browned.
2.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir in stock; bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes.  Taste carefully for seasoning (broth should be highly seasoned to flavor the rice).
3.  In a heavy, wide-bottom nonreactive pot or heavy 12-inch skillet heat butter over medium heat until melted.  Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes until rice becomes translucent.  Carefully stir in the hot tomato mixture.  Cover quickly and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.  Add the sausage and okra, mixing in gently with two forks.  Return cover and cook 10 minutes longer over very low heat, just until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.  (When I went to add the sausage, I discovered that the rice had absorbed all the liquid and was done, so I just dumped in the sausage and shrimp all at once and cooked it until the shrimp was done)
4.  Sprinkle shrimp lightly with salt and pepper.  Stir the shrimp into the rice mixture.  Cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes longer, just until shrimp is opaque.  Remove from heat and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.  Makes 6 servings.

*Hot chile peppers contain oils that may burn skin and eyes.  Wear plastic or rubber gloves when handling.
(didn't have any gloves at the cabin where I cooked this, so just washed my hands several times after chopping the jalapeno pepper, and then did the dishes after dinner, and that got rid of all the oil!)
**If you don't have petite diced or crushed tomatoes, you can use whole ones.  Working over a bowl, squeeze tomatoes with your hands to break into pieces.  You can also use fresh tomatoes in season -- dice up about 1-1/4 Cups.

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