Running down through Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi is an area known as the Southern Rice Belt and from here, a significant portion of the nation’s rice crop is grown. Positioned along side the Mississippi river, this land yields much of our conventional rice such as the long-grain white rice found in every southern kitchen. Creole cooks from long ago discovered the grain characteristics which result in the rice cooking dry and flaky, not sticky.
Then there are the specialty rice grown for the specific needs of niche markets which usually command a premium market price. A few interesting varieties are: Neches – a glutinous (waxy) long grain cultivar that is used by the starch and flour ingredients industry as a way to reduce the imported waxy rice. Lotus – a popcorn-scented long grain cultivar. Louisiana Pecan – This long-grain rice is grown only in the bayou country of southern Louisiana. It’s similar in flavor to Basmati, but the flavor suggests a nutty flavor and has a rich aroma. Texmati – A wonderful long grain rice with a dry, fluffy texture when cooked. Bengal, Jupiter and Neptune – All are medium grain rice grown mostly for expansion rice and used in breakfast cereals, confections and snack type products. Southern medium grain rice is also grown for its creamy consistency to use in desserts and puddings. It is not considered a good choice for serving as a stand-alone white rice as it is not as clean tasting as japonica varieties. Cooks in the southern states prefer to use it in foods containing spices, beans, meat and sauces.
This recipe is an easy way to make a rice soufflé-like casserole with savory overtones. This dish will accompany most any entrée and is one you will be glad to serve at your next dinner, supper or Sunday meal. It is especially good served under creamed chicken which, is an old southern way to use up left-over chicken meat by melding it into a flavorful and creamy, milk-base gravy.
Confetti Rice Casserole
6 to 8 servings
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3 cups cooked long-grain white rice
1/2 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup grated Gouda cheese
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
good dash of hot red pepper sauce
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a 2 quart round (or 3 quart rectangular if you want to cut into squares) casserole, melt the butter and coat the bottom and sides of the dish.
Combine remaining ingredients and spoon into the casserole. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.
Let rest about 5 minutes before serving.