Looking for a red rice recipe? Today we feature our own version of easy, Southern red rice. A great side for any dish, or enjoy it as a standalone meal.
A very popular dish you will find in the American South is Southern red rice. For sure, you can find local variations in Charleston and Savannah that have their own identities, but the basic recipe, ingredients and method are the same.
I love the opportunity travel gives you for learning about other cultures, foods and immigration (both people and their food). You can learn a great deal about low country food by taking free tours. One such tour is a tremendous walking tour of Charleston.
On the tour you will learn how the impact of immigration to the American south made easy a Southern red rice recipe such a staple throughout the region.
Red Rice in the American South is a Potpourri of Food Cultures
You may recall money, good living and the importance of manners in Charleston led to a very rich society where enormous wealth was on display. You can read more about that here. But this all ended at the completion of the American Civil War. The war left the South devastated, broke and food was in very short supply.
In short, the party was over! Consequently, all southerners had to tighten their belts and people ate what was available. Enter low country cuisine and the fascinating world of food immigration. No more enjoying expensive ingredients in flashy restaurants. Remember, towards the end of the Civil War, the North destroyed all crops to bring about a quicker end to the war.
The end of the war saw African-American cooks on southern plantations released and looking for paid work in the general community. Consequently, African-American cooks slowly became the cooks and chefs throughout Southern states. They introduced plantation cooking throughout the South using ingredients and cooking methods they knew and loved.
Think okra, watermelon, collard greens and rice. All African ingredients brought to the Caribbean and then onto the American south through migration. Note that these are all inexpensive and most of them are filling – just what the American south needed at the time.
Not Just Ingredients but Methods as Well
Do you think there is a lot of fried food in the American South? Why do you see fried chicken everywhere? Well because there is a reason for that too.
African-American migration introduced fried food to the Americas. Think about that for a minute. There was no refrigeration in West Africa. And furthermore, frying cooks food quickly. And it did not require any special energy source, just firewood, which at the time was plentiful.
For sure, there have been plenty of other influences on southern food, such as from the nearby Caribbean countries including Haiti, particularly on New Orleans (dirty rice is a very similar concept to red rice). The French, the frugal Dutch and Germans also have had a lasting impact on food in the South.
The result is a wonderful potpourri of flavors and methods that makes Southern food so interesting. It is certainly something to embrace and with that in mind here are the details for our easy Southern red rice recipe.
Easy Southern Red Rice Recipe
Don’t be fooled with the simplicity of this dish. It has a wonderful depth of flavor. It makes a tremendous side dish, especially with chicken – roast, fried or grilled.
Found everywhere throughout the American South, it is as just as good on its own. It has a slight kick but is still very mild in taste. You can spice it up by just adding a little more paprika.
The quantities below are enough for a filling side for 4 people or as a standalone meal for 2.