Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Simple Skillet Supper: Kielbasa & Smoky Beer-Rice

kielbasa and smoky beer rice
This simple and hearty supper takes no more than 1 hour to make from start to finish, and other than the rice-to-liquid ratio all the ingredient quantities are flexible. There's nothing fancy about this recipe; it's just good, old-fashioned comfort food that will fill the belly and warm the heart on a cold winter night. Pair it with a tossed salad or a cooked green vegetable and your meal is complete.

The smoked paprika and ancho pepper provide a subtly smoky, earthy flavor that complements the richness of the kielbasa. The alcohol in the beer will cook off so it's 100% family-friendly, but if you prefer to avoid all alcohol simply substitute water for the beer. This recipe serves 6 to 8, and any leftovers will taste even better the next day after the flavors have time to develop in the refrigerator. If you like hot and spicy foods, simply add 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes or a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce when you add the other herbs and spices. You can also use a hotter variety of dried chili pepper in place of the milder ancho chili.

1 lb (approx.) kielbasa (I recommend Weeping Radish nitrate-free kielbasa)
Optional: 1 or 2 Tbs olive oil or bacon fat
1 or 2 bay leaves
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 ancho chili pepper (dried poblano), rehydrated & chopped*
1 1/2 cups rice
1 bottle (12oz) beer
1 1/2 cups water (I include the water used to soak the ancho chili)
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika, mild or hot (aka Pimenton)**
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp (or to taste) ground black pepper

kielbasa & rice recipe
*Not sure how to rehydrate the ancho chili? Read my post on how to use dried chili peppers.
**If you don't have smoked Spanish paprika, regular paprika will work although it won't add smokiness.

In a large, deep skillet with a lid, cook the kielbasa until done (the casing should brown lightly and might "split" in some places)--the sausage should release enough fat to keep it from sticking while it cooks, but if it doesn't, you can add a little olive oil or bacon fat.  While the kielbasa is cooking, chop all the vegetables. When the kielbasa is done, remove from skillet and set aside. There should be just enough fat in the skillet to saute the vegetables--if not, add a little oil or bacon fat; if there is too much fat, pour off the excess before adding the vegetables. Add the bay leaves, garlic, onion & bell pepper to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened.  While they're cooking, slice the kielbasa into chunks (about 1" wide) and finely chop the rehydrated ancho chili.  Add the tomato & ancho chili to the other vegetables in the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and the tomatoes are breaking down. Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the beer, water (including the soaking water from the chili), all the herbs & spices, and the sliced kielbasa. Stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit about 5 minutes then uncover, stir and serve (discard the bay leaves).

Zestfully yours,


  1. We tried this tonight - outstanding! Used green bell peppers for the color (it cooks long enough to soften them up). Roasted the ancho before soaking, and also the seeds, fine. Everything else as per instructions.

    My sole suggestion would be that you provide recommendations as to what kind of "beer" would be most appropriate - there's a WIDE range, which presumably offers different taste possibilities. We went with Newcastle Brown Ale, which was very good: probably better than Coors Lite would have been!

    1. Hi Norman,
      Thank you so much for your feedback, and I'm so glad you enjoyed my recipe! Roasting the ancho chili is an excellent idea, as is the use of a good brown ale to complement the earthy flavors of the ancho and smoked paprika. I agree that the kind of beer used will have an effect on the flavor; I didn't specify a kind because the recipe will "work" whether you use a lighter, brighter or more hoppy beer vs. a darker, more malty beer, and I suspect that IPA drinkers will prefer a dish made with an IPA while a stout drinker will prefer the flavor resulting from the use of a dark beer. One recipe in which the type of beer makes a huge difference is my Chili Cheese Beer Bread, where the beer has a starring role. In contrast, using a cheap light beer for making Beer Can Chicken is probably just fine.

      As a brown ale, stout, porter & doppelbock drinker, I prefer darker beers in this recipe because of the kielbasa, paprika and ancho. In contrast, I prefer using a light pilsner or hoppy pale ale when making my Cuban Arroz con Pollo (recipe will be on this blog soon) because of the chicken and other ingredients in that dish. But from now on I'll recommend a kind of beer in any recipes calling for beer. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Zestfully yours,