Savannah Red Rice - Just Like Grandmother Used to Make

Red Rice - Savannah style

5 stars from 1 rating of Red Rice

Grandmother's touch

My husband's Grandmother was a genuine Steel Magnolia. Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, cooking was as vital a part of a young woman's upbringing as Sunday church and Cotillion.

When she went on to her reward at the ripe old age of 84, the one possession of Grandmother's that we (me and four sister-in-laws) fought over was not her diamonds or her antique furniture. It was her favorite frying pan. It didn't even have a handle any more. But it was so seasoned to perfection, you could cook rocks in it, and if you placed them on your head your tongue would beat your brains out to get to them.

To this day, 20-some years after her passing, I still dream about her fried chicken: crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. And I would give anything to go back in time and take back all the steamed cabbage and fried okra I politely passed around the supper table without taking any, because I was raised by mid-westerners and didn't know what I was missing. I know now. How I kick myself for the foolishness of youth.

When I did grow up a little and realized not just anybody could cook like Grandmother, I asked her for some of her recipes. "Oh, honey, just come watch me. I don't write anything down." So I did - many times. But if she started the process by saying "Now, honey, there is nothing to it" I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that mine would never, ever taste like hers. She moved around a kitchen like a ballerina on stage. She'd throw in a pinch of this and a dollop of that. But what it really came down to was timing. No matter how many times I watched her fry chicken, I would never master her sense of in just what order to do what, at what temperature, and for how long. With her, it was innate. She possessed that mysterious mastery that only comes from doing the same thing, over and over again, across a period of 70-some years - and always with a dollop of love.

When I get to Heaven, I'll look for the mansion with African violets on the window sill and know that's where I'll find the great fried chicken, steamed cabbage, fried okra, and Savannah red rice, which is the recipe I'm sharing today. It's the only one of Grandmother's masterpieces I've ever even come close to getting just right.

Forsyth Park

Source
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Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 40 min
Yields: Serves 12 reasonably hungry people or 6 ravenous

Jones Street - site of Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House

Source

Ingredients

  • 6 - 8 strips bacon
  • 1 large onion (preferably Vidalia)
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups rice, long cooking
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • to taste Tobasco
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, Important to reduce acidity of tomatoes

Port of Savannah

  1. Cut bacon and onion into small pieces. Fry until bacon is crispy and onion is opaque - not brown.
  2. Add canned tomatoes and tomato sauce and all seasonings. Stir well.
  3. Add water and bring to boil.
  4. Add rice, cover, simmer 20 minutes on low. It is OK for the bottom rice to get a little brown, (like the picture at the top of this hub) but be careful not to let it stick or burn. Lift with a spatula to check near the end of the cook time being careful not to break the rice too much.

A streetview in Savannah

Adjust seasonings to your taste

Don't expect to get this dish's seasonings exactly to your taste on your first try. Adjust them on each try. You'll notice I didn't even list salt and pepper. I would add some during the preparation, but I would not presume to list the exact measurement. It is easier to add on the table than it is to remove too much on the stove. And by all means, cook until the rice is done, no matter what cook time I list.

One last instruction: This dish always tastes better when it is shared by a loving family or group of close friends. Don't forget to include that important ingredient!

As Grandmother would say, y'all enjoy!

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Comments 33 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

I love southern food and I have no doubt that I will love this...thanks for the recipe.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

billybuc: It is best served with fried chicken or any pork dish. Enjoy!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

OK. Lots of folks are reading this, but nobody is commenting. Let's hear from y'all. Have you had this dish or something similar from your part of the country/world? I have a brother-in-law from Mexico who loves this southernization of Spanish rice!


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Great thought for a unique recipe and sounds a wonderful treat.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

DDE: Thanks for the comment. Don't you have something similar in your part of the world? I'm not big on posting recipes, but I thought this one was kind of universal?


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Your photos of Savannah make your recipe even more attractive. I do love rice and your recipe idea is one I will enjoy.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Can't write about Savannah without pictures. It is just too pretty. Glad you enjoyed this one - the recipe too! Tell me how it turns out.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Beautiful and well-placed photographs. I never much cared for Spanish Rice, but my high school in California served white rice with a can of tomato sauce thrown in. This sounds great, layers of flavor. And the family history was perfect. Sharing. Theresa


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

To me, Spanish Rice is often bitter. Probably Selantro. This has enough sugar to negate the acidity of the tomatoes. Plus onions and bacon - how can it not be good?


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

Savannah is a beautiful city (loved the photos), and your grandmother sounds like the epitome of a gracious southern woman, not to mention a terrific cook . Her methods remind me of my own grandmother's southern cooking, which is why so much that I cook is done without proper measuring. After a while I know just how much of any ingredient will work. However, that technique ruined me for baking! (Good thing I don't like sweets.)

However, I love Spanish rice, and I'm one of the people who adores cilantro so I always add a lot. I don't eat pork, so the bacon's left out. Lots of onions, spices and herbs. I keep bottled organic marinaro sauce that contains chunks of tomatoes which I use for any cooked dish calling for tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. And I don't add sugar because I truly like the acidity. Am I strange, or what?

You know--I think I'll have some Spanish rice for dinner. You talked me into it!

Voted Up+++ and shared because everyone should taste good Spanish rice

Jaye


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Jaye: Let me know how yours turns out. Savannah meets the southwest, huh? Cooking is all about suiting your individual taste. Thanks for your comments.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Thanks for the great photos. I lived in Savannah for 20 plus years, so it was good to see this. Red rice is definitely a local dish along with low country boil (shrimp, corn, sausage and potatoes). Savannah is a memorable place, the best way I know to put it.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

Mine turned out great and was enjoyed very much. I'll probably make some more soon. I don't eat rice frequently any more, but once a month isn't too often. This is the very best way to eat rice, too. If you had a rating survey, I'd vote five stars (even though I tweaked it a bit).

Jaye


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

rebeccamealey: Glad you enjoyed remembering Savannah with me. Mainly I miss Tybee Island where my Mother lived, but the town is beautiful.

Jaye: Please share your tweaks! I'm always looking for variations.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas

This looks so good. I'm hungry and the yummy looking recipes are jumping out at me with every profile I visit. I think I would need to leave some of the spice out, but otherwise this would be perfect. Have you considered delivery? Really, this looks scrumptious and easy to make too.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Au fait: North Texas is a ways from Atlanta for delivery! Let me know how your altered recipe turns out!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This sounds delicious. I love your description of your grandmother as a cook. The best cooks really do seem to have a mysterious, innate ability that the rest of us lack!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

AliciaC: You have started my hubs with one that actually serves a purpose: good eating! Hope your Red Rice turns out the first time. It's pretty easy - just don't leave anything out - especially the love! Welcome.


monia saad profile image

monia saad 24 months ago from In my Dream

I love southern food

THANK you for sharing that


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 24 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

monia saad: I noticed you write about healthy eating. I can't say most southern food is al that healthy, but we're doing better than we used to! We don't eat like this every day any more. But when I do cook "southern", I don't cut corners. I enjoy it knowing I'll have to eat salad and walk further tomorrow.

I also have posted my Mother's pot roast. It is definitely comfort food! Merry!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 22 months ago from sunny Florida

O my...I do get it. My Momma used a lot of "O, Honey" in her cooking and used no recipes either only a bit of this and a pinch of that. And the cast iron skillet is mine...each of the three daughters got one..I got THE one.

I am pinning this recipe so I can give it a try. Thank you for the lovely story and for sharing this family recipe full of HONEY.

Angels are on the way to you this evening. ps

Pinned shared g+ tweeted voted up ++++


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 22 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

pstraubi48: Thanks so much and welcome to my hubs! Let me know how it turns out, Honey!


tony55 profile image

tony55 22 months ago from Nigeria

The red rice fits a delicacy we eat in Nigeria during parties and special occasions such as anniversaries, weddings and even burial ceremonies. We call it Jolof rice and we love it to bits.


Nancy Hardin profile image

Nancy Hardin 22 months ago from Las Vegas, NV

Southern food is the greatest, best tasting food in the world. My mother cooked like you described your grandmother's cooking process, measuring by touch, knowing by years of experience when something was right. Thank you for this recipe.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 22 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

tony55: I knew this dish had similarities to dishes in other cultures. So glad to hear from you, all the way from Nigeria.

Nancy: A girl from Las Vegas who loves southern cooking? How cool is that. Grandmothers share similarities everywhere, don't they?

Thanks to you both for taking the time to comment.


Nancy Hardin profile image

Nancy Hardin 22 months ago from Las Vegas, NV

@Kathleen Cochran, the reason is I was born in Kentucky, and raised in Southern Indiana. Raised on that good southern cooking, beans and cornbread, mainly. But I learned to love deep south cooking too, because there were so many of those residents who made their way to my home town. Wonderful food! I never knew my grandmom, but my mother sure knew how to cook southern. :)


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 22 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Truth be told, I started out in Kansas! My Mother didn't cook southern. I married into Savannah and Virginia cooking - what a blessing it's been!


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 21 months ago from Home Sweet Home

a great delicacy to be try out, thanks.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 21 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

peachpurple: You will not be disappointed!


Celebrates profile image

Celebrates 21 months ago

Long ago it seems I remember eating a dish like this but it didn't have bacon. I think that would really make it much better, and I am going to try it.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 21 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

No bacon? This will make all the difference! Let me know how it turns out.


Aladdins Cave profile image

Aladdins Cave 18 months ago from Melbourne, Australia

Thanks for that, I shall see if I can cook this dish up over the weekend

I will also Tweet it because I'm sure I have a few followers that will read this. Thumbs up and

Cheers from DOWNUNDER


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 18 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

The more the merrier! I'm making this on Sunday to take to my mother in-law's. It feeds a crowd!

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