Rice and bacon

Zingerman’s 4th Annual Camp Bacon is coming soon and to help get everyone prepared, we’re sharing tasty excerpts and recipes from Ari’s book, Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon

South Carolina Red Rice

This recipe is classic cookery from the South Carolina (and actually Georgia as well) coast. A staple dish of the Lowcountry—one of North America’s most interesting and important regional cuisines— you can probably find six hundred different recipes for red rice in Southern cookbooks. The dish uses meat—here it’s bacon, of course—as an accent, so that you’re eating the same sort of rice and vegetable-dominated diet that one might get in the Mediterranean (but, again, using bacon fat in place of olive oil). Glenn Roberts from Anson Mills says he gives credit for this dish to émigré Sephardic Jews, although they probably weren’t doing it with bacon as nearly everyone does today. In her book about Southern Jewish cookery, Matzo Ball Gumbo, Marcie Ferris shares a recipe that uses Kosher salami instead!

If you make Red Rice with Uncle Ben’s, out-of-season tomatoes and supermarket bacon the dish is going to be fairly unremarkable. For me, the Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice is key to making the dish as exceptional as it can be. It’s a South Carolina low-yield, high-flavor rice varietal that dates back to the nineteenth century, so it’s the right rice to use for both authenticity and excellence of eating. Organically grown, field-ripened, custom-milled to retain all of the germ and most of the bran, it’s exceptionally flavorful stuff. You can certainly work with other varieties (most people do), but remember that, a) the flavor and texture of Carolina Gold is really something special, and b) you’ll need to adjust your cooking times and liquid-to-rice ratio a bit.

As to which pork to use, I like the Arkansas Peppered Bacon, but Sam Edwards’  dry-cured would be excellent, too. As in all Lowcountry cooking, the rice should really be in distinctive, individual grains when you’re done, rather than the creamily bound-together form you’d get from Italian risotto.


  • 2 cups Anson Mills Carolina Gold ricerice-guy-187U
  • 4 medium tomatoes or 1 (14.5-ounce) can
  • whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 8 ounces sliced Arkansas peppered bacon
  • (about 4 to 6 slices)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade or one of the better commercial brands: you may not end up using it all, but any leftover broth can be cooled and used later in the week)
  • Coarse sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper to taste



  1. 1. Wash the rice in cold water three times, or until the water runs clear. This keeps the grains from sticking together.
  2. 2. Halve the tomatoes and squeeze the juice into a medium bowl. If you’re using canned tomatoes, use the juice from the can. You’ll want about 2 cups of liquid for cooking the rice, so top off the tomato juice with chicken broth if necessary.
  3. 3. Chop the tomatoes and set aside. You should have about 1 cup.
  4. 4. Fry the bacon in a heavy-bottomed stockpot over moderate heat until almost crisp. Remove from the pot and drain. (You’ll want about ¼ cup bacon grease, so add a bit from your stash if needed.)
  5. 5. Reduce heat slightly and add the chopped onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until nicely caramelized—about 20 minutes.
  6. 6. When the onions are just about ready, bring the broth and tomato juice to a boil in a medium-sized pan and reduce to a low simmer. If you’re working with unsalted broth, add 1 teaspoon coarse salt.
  7. 7. When the onions are caramelized, raise the heat in the pot a bit, add the rice and stir well. Sauté for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, until the rice is very hot and shiny.
  8. 8. Stir the chopped tomatoes into the rice and cook for several minutes, stirring constantly.
  9. 9. Add the simmering broth into the rice, stirring well. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. (And don’t pick up that lid to look, either, OK?) Let stand, covered, for another 10 minutes.
  10. 10. While the rice is cooking, chop the bacon.
  11. 11. Remove the lid from the rice pot, add the bacon and stir gently. Flavor with salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper, fluff with a fork and serve.

Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish.

See you at Camp!