West Meets West Rice and Sausage
Thanks go out to Sra. C for this hearty, sinus-clearing, one-pot meal. My mother in law freely admits that she’s an easily distracted cook, but when it comes to white rice, she’s always on her game. Plain Puerto Rican white rice is one of the most difficult things for an outsider to master, but that will be an entirely separate post, and a snarky one at that.
The base for this button-popper is a sort of sauce called sofrito, a Puerto Rican staple used in many rice dishes, soups and stews. Every home cook on the island has their own signature recipe for the blend of peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes and cilantro, but the two essential ingredients are an herb called recao, and ají dulce, a sweet pepper grown on the island. The red color comes from the annatto oil in which the vegetables are cooked, and oh yeah, that stain’s not going to come out. Since I have neither access to the necessary peppers nor a life-long cultivated sense of pride in the matter, I use Goya sofrito, which comes in a jar found in, you guessed it, the international section.
1 16-oz pkg spicy Italian sausage
2 C uncooked medium grain white rice
4 C boiling water
1 8-oz can Spanish style tomato sauce
1/2 C sofrito
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 tbsp capers
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Slice the sausage into 1″ rounds, keeping the casing intact on as many chunks as possible. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-high, and brown the meat on all sides (it does not need to be completely cooked), then transfer the sausage to a bowl. Leaving the drippings in the pot, add the tomato sauce, sofrito, oil, capers and spices. Mix everything together and cook it over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the sausage and rice, then pour in enough boiling water to come up 1″ above the rice. Stir once, and boil uncovered over medium-high until all the water is absorbed. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and cook for another 30 minutes.
I trust that by this point I’ve got you feeling appropriately nervous about undercooked meat, but I assure you, this method gets the job done.