It seems like everyone I know had a magical experience during their first couple of years at college. Or maybe that’s just a stereotype and I don’t really know what everyone else was experiencing, but I do know that for me, it was hard. Like…worse than middle school (I actually have very happy middle school memories–I don’t know if that makes me freakish!). For those first two years, I felt lost, like I had no idea who I was or who I wanted to be and the expectation was that at that point in my life, I should have known. Heck, I spent the first 18 years of my life thinking that I knew and then suddenly I didn’t anymore. Those years, more than almost any other time in my life, are ones you couldn’t pay me to re-live.
It was during that time thatI really started to cook. In earnest. I had always dabbled here and there in the kitchen, but I reached a point where it kind of became this cathartic therapy for me. The problem was that I didn’t have a ton of recipes and I didn’t always know what I was doing.
My roommate Sara (not Our Best Bites Sara, actually–Sara from rockin’ West Des Moines), on the other hand, came to college well-stocked with family recipes. This is one that she would make all the time and then just eat the leftovers for the rest of the week. It became one of my favorite recipes and one that, these days, I kind of forget about until I remember how much I love it.
It actually reminds me a lot of our Jambalaya; it has rice, bacon, onions, garlic, green peppers, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder (definitely not in Jambalaya before someone goes and calls the Louisiana State Police on me!).
After you cook the bacon, you saute the onions, garlic, and pepper in a little of the reserved bacon grease and then just add the remaining ingredients to a heavy pot or Dutch oven
cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes (at a low elevation, closer to an hour at high elevations) or until the rice is cooked. Super easy, right? And perfect for fall. And the leftovers are awesome, especially if you have access to a microwave at work where you can re-heat them.
Recipe adapted by Our Best Bites
6-8 oz. bacon (1/2 of 1 package)
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small (or 1/2 larger) green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 28-oz. can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 c. water (2 for high elevations)
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/8-1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce (no need to measure it, just add a few shakes and go from there)
1 1/4 c. long-grain rice
Cook bacon until crisp in a Dutch oven if possible. Remove from pan and drain the grease, reserving 2 tablespoons in the pan. Return the pan to medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent. While the onions are cooking, place the tomatoes in the jar of your blender and pulse 2-3 times to chop them. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes at low elevations or closer to an hour for high elevations or until the rice is cooked, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice is not burning. Serves 6-ish and makes great leftovers.