Looking back to my childhood, I wonder how many meals left my dad hungry. We’d mix a pound of ground beef with a can of cream of mushroom soup, thin it with milk and serve it over six mashed potatoes with a side of peas or beans or some frozen vegetable that couldn’t have amounted to more than 3 cups. I never remember more than one frozen pizza being served for supper. A one-pound link of smoked sausage with a single packet of creamy chicken noodle side dish and a veggie… and there were 6 of us. Granted, in the early years of the existence of my siblings and me, we didn’t eat much, but I don’t really remember the amount of food being prepared ever increasing as we grew. It might explain his fondness for beef roast: there was always more than enough of that!
What got me thinking about my dad was a box of rice. A couple days ago I reached my limit on meals with boneless skinless chicken and ground beef. And because I was veering off the monthly meal plan, I needed something fast and easy. Raiding the pantry, I came up with a package of smoked sausage links, a box of Uncle Ben’s rice, a can of beans, and an onion. Recalling previous meals along this theme that always fell short on flavor, I decided that perhaps I’d apply what will soon become my cardinal rule of cooking: bacon will make it better. So I cooked up the bacon, sausage, and onion and dumped the rice in. One cup? Seriously? There was no way that would be enough. So I added another half-cup of long-grain rice and continued on, in awe that somehow my dad didn’t die of starvation years earlier.
I suppose he could have been holding out for some killer prime time snacks.
Sausage & Rice Skillet Meal
Using a single box of rice side dish will yield enough food to serve 4; I supplemented with an additional amount of rice to accommodate my family. For every half-cup of rice, add another half-cup of water or broth.
- 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 14-16 oz. package smoked sausage (links or “rope”), sliced
- 1 package rice side dish (I used Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice), seasoning packet removed (you may use if you don’t need it gluten-free) plus 1/2 cup rice or 1-1/2 cups long grain rice
- 3 cups chicken or beef broth or 3 cups water with 3 chicken or beef bouillon cubes
- 1 16-oz. can beans (I used white northern), drained
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. dried basil (optional)
- Cook bacon in large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onion and sausage; cook until onion is golden and sausage is browned, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add rice, broth, beans, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20-25 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve.