Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Like in a few short days, around the corner. I’m sure that’s the last thing you want to hear right now because you’re probably panicking and worrying about everything turing out perfect and you feel like you might cry at any moment because it’s just too overwhelming. Or maybe you’re pulling out all of your hair because you still haven’t done the grocery shopping, and you don’t even know what you’re going to make yet, and you’re having a bunch of people over for dinner, and you just don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into, and you feel like the world is ending. No? Maybe, I’m just projecting here. I’m still refusing to believe Thanksgiving is here. To me, this Thursday is just like any other day. The year just, whoosh, flew by. Although I do have to admit my stomach is starting to get really excited because I can’t wait to stuff my face with copious amounts of turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and dinner rolls and this here rice recipe I’m about to share with you. Oh and let’s not forget about all the pumpkin pie I plan on eating. Yeah you read that right, it’s just a carb fest. A carb-a-thon. I’m pretty sure that when the first Thanksgiving took place, it was their full intention, for this holiday to be nothing but carbohydrates. Carb party. One way ticket to Carb Town. I’m not mad at that though. Yeah, yeah, I’ll eat a few veggies here and there (for my mom’s sake). More like I’ll put some on my plate and when no one is looking just feed it to the dog. I’m totally kidding, I don’t even have a dog, but if I did you better believe he’d love vegetables. I’ll just hide the veggies somewhere else. Like under my placemat or onto my sister’s plate. She’ll give me her turkey and I’ll give her my veggies. It’s a win-win when someone you know doesn’t eat meat. If you don’t have a vegetarian friend, you’re missing out on all the wonderful eating opportunities that comes with it. Go out and find a vegetarian right away.
Thanksgiving, in all seriousness, happens to be my favorite holiday because it’s a holiday centered around food. What can be so wrong about that? It’s also a holiday (like most, I’m sure) centered around family and friends and loved ones. I added the “loved ones” to that line just in case you don’t love certain family members or friends and you just can’t stand their faces or something. See? I’m looking out for you. I’ve got you covered. I’ve also got you covered in the recipe department. If you’re tired of the same boring dishes year after year, around the Thanksgiving table, or if your family refuses to eat another green bean casserole or mashed potatoes (don’t include them in the loved ones category because they’re crazy) well, then you can switch things up this year by trying out this wild rice dish. I think that it compliments all the traditional turkey day flavors perfectly. But maybe I’m just biased because I made this and it’s the new post and I’m trying to sell it to you like a used car. That could be true. But do you really want to take that chance? This could be your new favorite Thanksgiving side dish for all you know. This could be the deciding factor for your boyfriend or girlfriend to propose to you (probably not, but I’m really trying here). I don’t think you should take the risk of not making it this year. That’s it. It’s settled. It has been decided—I’ve decided for you, trust me. You’re going to make this dish in just a short few days. No no, no need to thank me. It’s my job to make these types of decisions for you. All I ask is that you dedicate your Thanksgiving meal to me. Right before eating, just stand up and say, “I want to take a moment to dedicate this meal to the man who made it possible. The man who created this wonderful wild rice dish you’re all about to enjoy. The man who changed my life. Jonathan Melendez.” That’s not asking for much right? I think it’s pretty reasonable. But enough about me, sheesh, you all sure know how to talk my ear off. Let’s get cooking. Thanksgiving is around the corner. Like in a few short days, around the corner. We’ve been here once before…
This is a very simple recipe, one that I don’t want you all to stress over. This is the recipe you make when you don’t want stress in the kitchen. It’s super filling and mega tasty.
We’re going to start by plumping up some dried mushrooms. “He’s a plumper. He’s a plumper.” Thanks Foster’s Farm for never letting me hear the word plump again without thinking of chicken.
Place the dried mushrooms into a small bowl and then cover with hot chicken stock.
**Note: You can just use hot water if you don’t have chicken stock at home or if you want to keep it vegetarian. You can also use veggie stock for that matter as well. I like to add as much flavor as possible, wherever possible so I used chicken stock. Plus this recipe has ground sausage in it, so that vegetarian thing went out the window for me long time ago.**
Let’s turn our attention to the rice now.
We’re using two types of rice. Long grain (which is pretty much your normal everyday rice, or at least for me it is). And a wild rice. (It looks like black rice. Rad).
**Note: Most large supermarkets carry wild rice, it’ll be in a small box or package. Sometimes you’ll see it mixed already with the long grain rice, that’s okay too. Most of the time you’ll see it in those boxes of rice mixes with seasoning. You can go ahead and use two of those boxes for this recipe, just open it and throw away the seasoning packets. You won’t need that.**
Most rice instructions tell you not to wash the rice but I like to wash it because I feel like I should. So I do.
I mixed both rices together and just rinsed them in a strainer under cold water until the water ran clear. Most of the starch was washed away.
I’m making this with chicken stock, but again you can use water or veggie stock if you prefer. Bring the stock or water to a boil with the butter and salt, then add the rice. Give it a stir, place a lid on it and lower the heat to as low as it will go. Forget about it for about 30 minutes. Don’t even open it. Just let it cook on its own.
In the meantime, chop an onion and a few cloves of garlic.
Also slice the fresh mushrooms.
**Tip: You can use a variety of mushrooms here, I used small portabellos. I recommend using those instead of the white button mushrooms just because I feel like the white buttons don’t have as much flavor. But if that’s all you have available to you, then that’s okay.**
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Drop in a few tablespoons of butter and allow it to melt.
Then throw in the chopped onions and garlic.
Allow them to cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
Season the onion and garlic with salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper.
Give it a good stir and allow to cook for a few minutes longer until they just begin to brown. Keep an eye on them though, stirring occasionally so that they don’t burn on you. It’ll happen rather quickly if you don’t watch out.
Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes until they brown.
Again, make sure to stir every so often so that the mushrooms don’t burn.
Remember those plumped up dried mushrooms? Well, it’s time to add them now. Drain away the liquid, making sure to have them as dry as possible (you don’t want to add any moisture to the skillet) and stir them into the rest of the veggies.
At this point, you can season with a bit more salt and black pepper.
I like to add a bit of fresh thyme to this because it really brings out the flavor of the mushrooms. Thyme compliments that earthiness and woodsiness of the mushrooms, giving to the illusion that you cooked all day to make this dish. When in reality you didn’t do much work at all. But let’s not tell anyone that. That way you can say “Oh I cooked all day to make this dish, can someone please wash the dishes? I’m too tired.” And that my friends is the way to do it.
Take a few stems of thyme and remove the leaves. You don’t need to chop it, just add the thyme to the veggies.
Cook for a few minutes longer, to develop all the flavors. Transfer the veggies to a bowl and place the skillet back on the flame to reheat.
Once the skillet is smokey, add the ground sausage. Don’t worry about adding any oil or butter because the sausage, of course, will release a lot of fat.
Cook the sausage, breaking it down with a wooden spoon, until it is crispy, crumbly and golden brown.
**Tip: If you notice there to be too much grease in the skillet, you can drain most of it away.**
Once the sausage is cooked and browned, you can add the sautéed veggies back into the skillet.
Stir it all together and allow the mushrooms and onions to reheat, stirring constantly.
We’re about to add even more flavor to this dish by deglazing the pan with a bit of red wine. It’s just a splash of it, and it’s totally optional but if you have red wine on hand, you should definitely add it. Red wine and mushrooms and thyme just go so well together. Like peanut butter and jelly. Like milk and cookies. Like turkey and Thanksgiving. So add the wine. Unless of course you’re underage, in which case, don’t add it because well you can’t buy any. Although I’m sure you can ask your parents to buy some for this dish. I don’t know how they would feel about that, so don’t say I told you to ask. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Add the wine, all the while, stirring with the wooden spoon. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the skillet to pick up all those bits and pieces. That’s all flavor. Lower the heat to low and allow the alcohol to cook off. Allow most of the moister in the skillet to evaporate.
By this time your rice will be done. Fluff it up and transfer it to a large bowl.
Slice a few scallions and chop a handful of fresh parsley. We’re going to need those not only for flavor but mostly for color because let’s face it this is just tan food mixed in with brown food. Not appealing to the eye in the slightest. But that pop of green will go a long way. Trust me.
Add the sausage and mushrooms to the cooked rice.
Toss it all together so that the everything is well incorporated.
Add the scallions and parsley, reserving a bit of each for additional garnish at the end.
Give it one final stir and taste for seasoning, you might need a bit of freshly cracked black pepper to take it over the top, but you know me, I just happen to love black pepper a lot so you might not even need any more. It’s all up to you. I’m giving you the power to make the decision yourself. But don’t get used to it. That’s enough.
And just like that, BOOM, you are done. You can serve it warm like it would be at that point or what’s great about this dish is that it’s just as delicious at room temperature. You don’t have to worry or fuss about it being super hot. That’s what makes it so great as a side at Thanksgiving because you’ll have a lot more other things to worry about. Don’t let this be one of them.
If you recall, I had been on a vegetarian kick lately. The last few posts have been for all those vegetarians out there. The ones I sometimes forget about. Well, you know me, I was starting to miss meat so I decided to add sausage to this dish. You can easily make this completely vegetarian by omitting the sausage. Or you can swap it out for tofu, if you’re into that sort of thing. I would use extra-firm tofu. Dry it off as best you can, and dice it into medium cubes. Then brown the tofu cubes in a skillet with a bit of oil until brown on all sides. You can just stir that into the rice at the end. Also swap out the chicken stock for veggie stock or plain water. And just like that, you have a complete vegetarian meal. Oh and a gluten-free one too. Nothing wrong with that.
I know how stressful the holidays can be. Especially this year for some reason because I’m still refusing to believe that Thanksgiving is jus a few short days away. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve been in a strange funk as of late. But with that being said, it’s nice to have a few easy go-to recipes like this one to fall back on when things are just too hectic. The mushrooms and sausage make this a perfect Thanksgiving day side, and it’ll spice things up on the table. Try something new this year. Don’t stick to the same boring ol’ sides as every year. Although leave the mashed potatoes. Don’t you dare touch those. Mashed taters are a staple, a must have, a if I don’t get any on Thanksgiving someone will pay, side. Let’s focus more on family and loved ones this year instead of stressing out in the kitchen making sure everything goes perfectly. Nothing is perfect. But here’s to just having fun. Enjoy!
Sausage and Mushroom Wild Rice
The perfect side dish to your Thanksgiving meal. You can easily whip this up and not stress about it. The even better when eaten at room temperature so take advantage of this recipe for any holiday or those nights of the week when you’re too tired to make an elaborate meal. You can easily make this completely vegetarian by using water or veggie stock instead of chicken stock and swapping out the sausage for tofu.
yield: about 4 to 6 servings
- 1 package dried mushrooms (mixed variety)
- ½ cup chicken stock (veggie stock or water), boiled
- 1½ cups long grain rice, rinsed
- ½ cup wild rice, rinsed
- 3½ cups chicken stock (veggie stock or water)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 teaspoons black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ pound ground sausage, spicy
- ¼ cup red wine
- scallions, sliced
- parsley, chopped
1. Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with the ½ cup chicken stock, veggie stock or water. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rehydrate.
2. Bring the 3½ cups chicken stock, veggie stock or water to a boil with 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in the rinsed long grain and wild rice. Cover tightly with a lid and lower the heat to low. Allow to cook for about 30 to 35 minutes (wild rice cooks longer). Just leave it alone, don’t open the lid at any point before the 30 to 35 minutes because you’ll allow all the steam to escape.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the chopped onions and garlic and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown. Stir in the sliced crimini mushrooms. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the mushrooms begin to brown. Drain off the rehydrated mushrooms, from earlier, and stir into the skillet. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes until heated through. Season with a bit more salt, black pepper, and fresh thyme leaves. Transfer the onion and mushroom mixture to a separate bowl.
4. Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat, no need to clean. Add the sausage and cook until browned and crispy, breaking it down and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Once browned, add the veggies back in and cook for a few more minutes. Add the red wine, deglazing the pan, making sure to scrape up the bits and pieces at the bottom of the skillet. That’s where all the flavor is. Cook until the alcohol and most of the moisture evaporates.
5. Fluff up the cooked rice and transfer it to a large serving bowl. Add the cooked sausage and mushrooms mixture and stir until evenly combined. Stir in the fresh scallion and parsley. Serve right away or at room temperature. Enjoy!