Long before she was a celebrated Lowcountry farmer, Celeste Forte Albers was a little girl in Delaware who summered here: Her father was born and raised in a cypress-sided house that his grandfather built in Awendaw.
Albers still recalls their family meals and Ocean Grove United Methodist Church suppers, all of which featured red rice.
“I can see Cousin Amy’s big table on the porch overlooking the Inland Waterway,” she says, remembering the “serving dishes overflowing with red rice; corn on the cob; fresh tomatoes; okra and butter beans from her garden; fried shrimp; whiting and spot; cornbread; the best sweet tea you ever drank, and maybe even some conch stew if cousin Wimpy harvested some.”
When her grandmother was cooking, the red rice was made with converted rice, but Albers prefers Carolina Gold rice or middlins. She cautions that her recipe “makes a good bit,” but adds that leftover rice is a fine breakfast, especially with a fried egg on top.
Awendaw Red Rice
3-4 slices thick cut smoked bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 cups water
6 tablespoons bacon fat
2 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
Cook bacon in 6-quart pan or Dutch oven until just brown; add onion, celery, green pepper. Stir and sauté covered until soft. Add tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and 1 cup of the water. Cover and cook over low heat 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining water and bacon fat, bring to a boil. Add rice, cover and cook until tender, 30-45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before fluffing and serve.
Editor’s note: Albers’ red rice is one of four competing in The Post and Courier food section’s recipe contest for a category crown. Over the course of a year, the newspaper will publish four reader-supplied recipes for each of 12 iconic Lowcountry dishes.
Featured recipes have been lightly edited to conform with the newspaper’s style, but they have not been tested: It’s up to readers to choose a winner. To weigh in on the red rice race, join us at bit.ly/PCFoodFBgroup.