By Kara Kimbrough
I am guilty of panic buying. Am I alone in this? Please tell me I’m not. As the pandemic began to rear its ugly head in early March, I began to furiously buy staple items. In hindsight, my supply looks rather unusual. I still have unopened containers and jars of a weird assortment of dry pasta, tea bags, crackers, cans of soup, jars of pasta sauce…and don’t ask me why...but I bought two bags of long grain rice and not one, not two, but three boxes of Minute Rice. As life slowly begins returning to normal, or at least a semblance of normalcy, the unopened boxes of Minute Rice are beginning to mock me. As a result, last weekend I began searching for ways to get rid of, I mean, use them.
First, I pulled out an old family recipe for brown rice. Various family members all made it on a regular basis and called it by this name, along with dirty rice and rice casserole. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s always been one of my favorite side dishes. The fact that it was written in my own elaborate teenage cursive handwriting was an even stronger sign that it was time to resurrect the recipe. Even better, it would put a dent in one of the Minute Rice boxes.
To make it, brown a half cup of rice, stick of butter, and a medium chopped onion in a skillet. Add a can each of mushroom and French onion soups, along with a cup of water. The recipe also calls for a small can of pimentos, chopped. I usually omit those, but feel free to add if you like them. Mix it all together, pour into a greased 9x13-inch glass casserole dish, and bake for an hour at 300 degrees.
The savory cooked rice can be used as a side dish to almost any meat or serve as the base for chicken fried rice, chicken cacciatore, or seafood dishes like jambalaya or shrimp Creole. Making the list created a craving for shrimp Creole. Time didn’t permit making the version with a long list of ingredients, so I threw together a shortcut dish. It was more than satisfactory and even better, was a tasty way to use more of my pandemic rice. Shortcut Shrimp Creole 3/4 pound frozen, uncooked large shrimp, thawed and cleaned 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning 2-3 tablespoons Italian salad dressing 2-3 teaspoons minced garlic 1 cup tomato sauce 1 cup diced tomatoes Cooked white or brown rice Toss uncooked shrimp with Cajun seasoning and dressing in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cook and stir garlic with tomato sauce and diced tomatoes in skillet on medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, until heated through. Add shrimp; cook 2 -3 minutes or until pink, stirring occasionally. Serve over cooked rice.