A lightened up version of the Cuban staple “arroz con salchicha” (yellow rice with Vienna sausages) using basmati brown rice, turmeric, and spicy chicken sausage.
When I was 11 years old, my mom went back to visit family in Cuba. It was the first time I was going to be away from her and for two weeks, nonetheless. It was torture! I’m pretty attached to my mom and well, her cooking as well. Imagine being 11 years old and your mom is not home to love you, cook for you, DO EVERYTHING that super moms do for you. AHHH.
A little background before I continue. I don’t know about you but when you’re brought up in a Cuban household, one of the main things Cuban moms teach you is that you MUST eat WHATEVER is offered to you in another household. No matter if it’s another family member or a friend, the polite thing to do is to say thank you and eat it!
“Don’t embarrass me.” – says Cuban moms everywhere.
Even if you’ve never eaten it before, you just have to pretend. Literally the definition of ‘fake it til you make it’.
Now I was the pickiest child in the history of the world. The fact that I’m the foodie I am today STILL shocks my mother. She doesn’t understand how I would literally YELL at the sight of something green in my food and here I am, posting about zoodles, salads, kale and green juice.
Since my mom’s main concern in life was me being well fed, she would try to work with this particularly picky palate of mine. Yes, I was spoiled. Sometimes she would force feed me but for the most part, I never really ate any dish that I didn’t like because again…YELLING would ensue.
So back to the story.
My mom leaves us – my dad, my sister and I, for two weeks. My aunt, who lives two blocks away from my parent’s house, invites us over for dinner. She makes us arroz con salchicha. If you’ve never heard of this before, arroz con salchicha is yellow Cuban-style rice with cut up Vienna sausages. The most Cuban dish on Earth. You make yellow rice with a ton of spices and drop in cut up Vienna sausages from the can. That’s it.
It’s actually pretty freaking delicious BUT at 11 years old, I’d never had it before!
Since my mom taught me that I HAD to eat everything that was offered to me away from home, I accepted the dish and ate it. To everyone’s surprise, I cleaned the plate! My aunt, knowing how picky I was and recalling that my mom had literally told her “please make sure she doesn’t die of starvation because she is the pickiest eater in America”, was beyond shocked.
Maybe it was because there was nothing green in it. In any case, it was flavorful, delicious…it was Cuban comfort food at its best.
And my mom was PISSED. “You never eat that when I make it!?” …but…but you told me to eat whatever is offered to me when I’m not home! Needless to say, that convo did NOT end well.
Today, I bring you MY lightened up version of arroz con salchica. This was FIRE. Seriously SO good. Not too spicy, TONS of flavor, and doesn’t give you that yucky “I’m so full” feeling or make you MSG sleepy. Zzzz.
Instead of using saffron or Bijol spice to color the rice, I used turmeric. I’ve been experimenting with turmeric a lot this year and I really like it. The flavor is definitely strong and a little dash goes a long way so be mindful of that.
Instead of white rice, I used basmati brown rice which has a unique aroma (not a bad one!) and was a bit more chewy than white rice. Finally, instead of Vienna sausages, I used cut up spicy chicken sausages which was delicious and not as spicy as you’d expect. Man, I used to eat Vienna sausages out of the can. Like the entire thing. My mom would have to hide them from me. Ha!
The result of this dish was pretty perfect. Granted nothing will compare for the real deal but I enjoy creating different variations of the tried and true. I hope you make this easy, Cuban-inspired dish and LOVE it as much as I do!
A lightened up version of the Cuban staple "arroz con salchicha" (yellow rice with Vienna sausages) using basmati brown rice, turmeric, and spicy chicken sausage.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 3/4 red bell pepper
- 1/4 bunch cilantro
- 1 1/2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups basmati brown rice
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 4 spicy chicken sausages room temperature
- 1/8 inch water
- salt and pepper to taste
In food processor, pulse onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and garlic until finely chopped and evenly combined.
In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add mixture and cook until onions are fragrant and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth, rice, lime juice, bay leaf, oregano, garlic powder, turmeric, and cumin. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 1 hour.
In the meantime, make the sausages. In a separate nonstick pan, add 1/8 inch of water to the pan and cook sausages at medium heat, turning them frequently, for about 15-20 minutes.
When the sausages are done, cut them in pieces and add to the rice. Serve immediately.