This post was contributed by guest blogger, Samantha Sizemore. Think of it as a virtual Food Field Trip- Enjoy!
“A single grain of rice tipped the scale”
Rice is a common enough, every day ingredient. It is used in every genre in cooking, in every meal of the day and in every way imaginable. In fact, rice is used so often that it has almost become a part of the background – unnoticed.
A small town in Southeast Texas is looking to change that, however.
Winnie, Texas is located in the south-easternmost tip of the great state of Texas and is home to just under 3000 people. Winnie’s proximity to the Texas-Louisiana border provides a strong Cajun influence in it’s people and cuisine.
Another benefit of Winnie’s location is it’s climate, which is perfect for growing rice. There are countless rice farms located in this small town, many of which ship their products throughout the world.
(This is a Combine Tractor. Combines are used to cut and harvest rice)
In a town whose success is so closely tied to an agricultural product, it is no surprise that this product is in an honorary position for the townspeople. Every year, at the end of the rice-harvesting season, Winnie hosts the annual Texas Rice Festival.
TRF, as locals call it, offers many attractions. Live shows featuring musical artists such as Easton Corbin, Wayne Toups, and Kevin Fowler take the stage nightly. Junior High and High School students from around the area participate in livestock shows during the day and carnival rides operate from the early hours of the morning until late into the night.
There is also a Little Miss Rice Queen, Jr Queen and Sr Queen Contest; Little Rice King Contest; Youth Day activities; Old Fiddler’s Contest; Art Contests; and Cooking Contests.
A week full of food, family, friends and fun!
(2011 Sr Queen, Devyn Rhe’ DeVore)
The real star of the show, however, is the rice.
Food vending trailers and stands line the streets selling rice cooked in a variety of ways. Patrons can purchase rice balls (ground meat or chili surrounded by rice formed into a ball shape and then deep fried in peanut oil), boudain sausages, fried boudain nuggets, rice in gumbo and rice in crawfish etouffe to name a few.
TRF aims to highlight the important of rice, not only in the community, heritage and economy of Winnie, Texas, but also throughout the world.
Below is a recipe for Rice Balls taken exactly as seen from the 1982 Texas Rice Festival Cookbook. Gather friends and family and start a new Fall Kitchen Tradition making Rice Balls-Yummy Fun!
- 3 cups short grain rice
- 7 cups salted water
- 1 stick butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground meat
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 3/4 cup chopped green onion
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 16 ounce canned tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- 3 whole eggs beaten
- 5 cups seasoned bread crumbs
- Oil for deep frying
- Add rice to salted water and bring to boil. Simmer until rice is mushy. Remove from heat, add butter and cinnamon. Cool.
- Fry meat in 1/4 cup oil until meat loses redness. Add onions, celery, garlic and cook slowly for 10 minutes. Add chili powder, tomato sauce and water. Simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add parsley, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
- To form rice ball, put 1/3 to 1/2 cup of rice in hand greased with meat grease. Form a cup in the palm of the hand like a birdnest. Add one tablespoon of meat mixture and roll into a firm ball. Continue to make rice balls.
- Chill and dip rice ball in beaten egg and roll in seasoned breadcrumbs. Fry in hot deep oil until golden brown. Makes three dozen.