Gullah Rice

Gullah Rice

This one-pot dish is akin to a purloo or a jambalaya. It evokes the traditional tomato-based Savannah Red Rice but is steeped in  vegetable stock. When I was coming up, a bowl of rice with some roasted vegetables in it was often dinner, especially when meat proved scarce. I still find it comforting, just as I did during those lean years when I was at HowardUniversity, right after getting out of the Army. Anytime someone would say they didn’t have any food in the house, I would invite folk over and serve my version of Gullah Rice, finished with a handful of fresh arugula that wilt slightly from the heat.


For the Gullah Rice:

  1. 1 cup red onion, roughly chopped
  2. 4 tablespoons bacon grease or butter
  3. 1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
  4. 2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  5. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  6. 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  7. 1 whole habanero pepper
  8. One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  9. 1 ¾ cups Vegetable Stock (recipe follows)
  10. 1 cup Carolina Gold Rice or another long-grain rice

For the Vegetable Stock:

  1. 2 quarts water
  2. 1 pound yellow onions, roughly chopped (do not use sweet onions)
  3. ½ pound baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
  4. ½ pound carrots, roughly chopped
  5. 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  6. 1 tablespoon sea salt
  7. 1 sprig rosemary
  8. 1 sprig thyme
  9. 1 sprig oregano
  10. 2 cloves garlic, smashed


For the Gullah Rice:

  1. In a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in the bacon grease until it starts to soften, approximately 3 to 4minutes, then add the bell pepper and sauté for another minute or two more.
  2. Toss in the garlic, paprika, salt, and habanero pepper. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock, then let the vegetable mixture come to boil.
  3. Stir in the rice and turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Every 5 minutes or so over a 20-minute period, stir the rice until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove the rice from the heat, taste and add a pinch or two more of salt to your liking. Allow the rice to rest for 5 minutes before serving.*

For the Vegetable Stock:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large stockpot over high heat and bring to a roaring boil. Turn the heat to low and let the stock simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Remove the stock from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Once cooled, strain the stock into 2-cup portions in sealable containers and place in the refrigerator, where it will keep up to 2 weeks. In the freezer, the stock will keep up to 6 months.**

*Tip: If you want to add meat, sauté sliced smoked or andouille sausage, or chicken tenders cut into chunks, for 5 to 7 minutes before adding the onion. For shrimp, add peeled and deveined shrimp during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

**Tip: Make a double or triple batch of this stock to keep on hand for rice dishes, soups, and sautés. You can freeze it or keep it refrigerated for up to two weeks. You may add clippings from other vegetables, such as asparagus and other greens, for added flavor, depth, and nutrients. Throw any of your leftover vegetable peels into your compost bin.

Adapted from Bress ‘n’ Nyam by Matthew Raiford.

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