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World Cup Party: Viva USA! All the Carbs!

Rachel Tepper

We’re watching the World Cup with an eye to food (of course). Here’s a kicking dish from a nation whose game is on today. 

World Cup Party: Viva USA! All the Carbs!

Photo credit: Fresh Air Photo/StockFood. Illustration credit: Rachel Tepper

Monday night, the United States national soccer team will face off against Ghana in its first game of the 2014 World Cup.

You know what that means: full-body cheering so exhausting that you can only muster the energy for it once every four years.

Sure, you won’t be taking the field with the boys in red, white, and blue. But your evening’s activities will require an energy boost, just like theirs. Pasta is great for carbo-loading, but when it comes to chowing down and being super patriotic, opt for some all-American rice dishes hailing from all over the U.S. of A. 

Since a recent article reminded us that rice is just as good as pasta in the carb department (the “carb-partment”?), consider jambalaya, the Louisiana dish of rice often laden with spicy andouille sausage, chicken, vegetables, and seafood. It appeared on the scene in the mid to late-19th century, and has been a huge part of both Louisianan and American culture ever since. Make sure it’s heavy on the rice and light on the protein, and your carbo-loading will be a success.

You could also opt for loco-moco, a Hawaiian dish of rice topped with a ground beef patty, onions and fried eggs. It was invented in 1949 at the now-shuttered Lincoln Hotel in Hilo and become one of Hawaii’s most popular comfort foods not long after.

Of course, the great thing about American cuisine is that it’s an amalgam of various food cultures from around the world. Asian-inspired pork fried rice and Latin red rice may not have originated from within our borders, but they sure are eaten a ton here now. And they’d make for a Lady Liberty–approved carbo-load.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
From Epicurious
Serves 6 to 8

5 1/2 pounds chicken pieces (drumsticks, thighs, and breast halves with skin and bones)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds andouille* or other spicy smoked pork sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 medium onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14- to 16-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained well
1 cup thinly sliced scallion greens

Pat chicken dry and season with salt. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken in batches, without crowding, turning once, 6 to 8 minutes total (add remaining 2 tablespoons oil as needed between batches). Transfer to a bowl as browned.

Reduce heat to moderate and brown sausage in 4 batches in fat remaining in skillet, turning, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined bowl as browned.

Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon fat from skillet, then cook onions, celery, and bell pepper in skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 1 cup stock and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a wide 8-quart heavy pot and add chicken, water, tomatoes, cayenne (if using), and remaining cup stock. Simmer, partially covered, until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Transfer chicken with tongs to a clean bowl and measure cooking liquid with vegetables, adding additional water as necessary to measure 7 cups. If over 7 cups, boil to reduce.

Stir rice into cooking liquid (in pot). Arrange chicken over rice (do not stir), then bring to a boil over high heat, uncovered, without stirring. Bake, covered, in middle of oven until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let jambalaya stand, covered, 10 minutes. Gently stir in scallion greens, sausage, and salt to taste.

For more carbo-load-worthy rice dishes, head over to Epicurious.