Nearly 10 years ago we visited Charleston, SC for the first time. We love Charleston and have been back many times since, but on that first trip we discovered a local dish called Red Rice at Hyman’s Seafood. Neither of us had ever heard of red rice, so we asked the waiter about it. They said that it was a tomato-y rice and sausage dish that had a bit of heat. That sounded good to us, so we ordered it and were absolutely floored. We’ve been hooked ever since.
Charleston Red Rice is South Carolina low country dish similar to the sausage and rice that I grew up with as a kid, except much better. Sausage, onions, and bell pepper is a good base for any dish, but it’s fabulous with rice. We typically make a batch of red rice as a main dish, but it’s an amazing side dish as well. It’s warm and spicy and would be great for those chilly evenings coming over the next few months.
- 2 C white rice
- 1 lb sausage links, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, medium dice
- 1 bell pepper, medium dice
- 3 C water, plus additional as needed
- 1 4oz can tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Heat a large pot over med-high heat.
- Cook sausage until browned.
- Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook until translucent (3 minutes)
- Add rice and butter and cook until rice is slightly browned (3 minutes)
- Add water and remaining ingredients, stir to incorporate thoroughly.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Let cook for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
- Add more water as needed and cook until rice is tender.
- This rice will be sticky when cooked, so don't expect fluffy. Also, it's common for some of the tomato to stick to the bottom of the pot and get very brown. This is normal, so as long as it's not burned you'll be OK.
Red rice is one of the best local specialty dishes that I’ve found. It’s simple and delicious. What are some of your favorites?