Wednesday, February 20, 2013

chicken sausage and bacon curry fried rice

fried rice, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I'm a bit obsessed with ethnic inspired rice based dishes lately, since getting my mitts on Jerusalem, the latest, brilliant cookery book by Ottolenghi. The Middle Eastern slant on my own crazy fried rice mash-ups gives me a whole new purpose. I've taken to adding curries, za'atar, sumac, lentils and chickpeas to the standard rice, onion and egg base.
Recipes like this fit into my week so well and my favorite way to use any number of leftovers. It's a great make ahead that's perfect for any meal. I prepare a big batch and then portion it into lunch containers that I can grab and go to work with me or stir into scrambled eggs in the morning or heat up for dinner when I get home and I'm too tired to cook anything.
I make a fried rice at least once a week and it never comes out the same way twice.
This post has been sitting in draft suspension as I attempt to write, write and rewrite a recipe for this particular fried rice. No can do.
I've come to the conclusion-which is exactly where I started-that fried rice is a spontaneous mash-up and cannot be harnessed into precise measurements and cooking time.
Thusly here's the vague process I generally follow:

This one was inspired by a cache of chicken sausages my test kitchen dummy gave me awhile back, frozen and shrink wrapped by his brand spankin' new seal-a-meal-deal. No fancy charcuterie here, just very pedestrian supermarket factory processed keilbasa type links. Not something I generally gravitate to, but always one to accept such gifts with grace and gratitude. I knew a fried rice was their little kitchen destiny.
My general approach to a fried rice is to examine the contents of the fridge and see what jumps out, in other words: Refrigerator Rescue 911.
This one involved a few make aheads:
  • Caramelized onions
  • french lentils (picked over, rinsed then slow cooked for about 4 hours in water with chicken seasoning and fresh thyme).
  • day-old brown rice - I had about 3 cups
other components:
eggs-beaten (approximately 1 egg per cup of rice)
jamaican curry (my home-made blend)
chicken sausage
soy sauce
leftover sauteed mushrooms
fish sauce

The most crucial part of the fried rice is the set up, or mise en place as they call it in the culinary world. All of the ingredients prepped and measured (if necessary) into their respective dices and slices, then contained in individual small bowls assembled together on a tray or baking sheet. Not only is everything at the ready when you need it, you won't forget anything either.
The components  of any fried rice begin with aromatics such as onions (if you're not using carmelized), carrots, garlic, ginger  and/or any spice blend one is fond of such as Chinese five spice, curry, or fajita blend. For this one I used up the last of my jamaican curry blend.
Use the largest skilled you have and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil or bacon fat. Turn the heat to medium-high and when the oil is hot add the beaten eggs. Cook and scramble the egg until it's set, then remove from the pan and set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and immediately stir in your preferred spice blend, stirring the spices until they become fragrant, about one minute. Adding the spices at this point allows the flavors to bloom. If you don't have caramelized onions, add about a cup of diced onions to the skillet, stirring them around to coat and lower the heat slightly and cook until the onions start to brown, then add the garlic and/or ginger and cook for another minute.
If you are using previously cooked caramelized onions, hold off adding them until after the meat (if any) you're using is almost cooked,
The general order:
hot skillet
scramble egg-remove set aside
other aromatics: onion, carrot, garlic and/or ginger cooked until soft and fragrant
uncooked vegetables
uncooked meat
cooked meat
cooked lentils
spicy roasted chickpeas
add the eggs back
soy sauce
fish sauce
fresh chopped herbs and sliced scallions 
Once I've plated or dished out my portions, I like to sprinkle some za'atar over the top. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice and herb blend which includes thyme, marjoram, oregano, toasted sesame seeds and sometime sumac. It adds an herby finish  in the end.

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