4 strips slab bacon, diced

1/2 cup chopped onions

6 ears of corn-on-the-cob

1 can Rotel tomatoes with chilies

1 quart water

4-6 Tbsp. chicken base

1 lb. smoked sausage

4 cups fresh broccoli florets (not frozen!)

2 cups long grain rice

This is one of those recipes you do in sequence (and in only two pots). First, take a 3-1/2 quart sauce pan, put it on the stove over medium heat, drop in the bacon pieces and saute them until they begin to render out the drippings. Then toss in the diced onions and cook them into the bacon drippings until they soften (they don't have to brown).

While this is going on, take a sharp knife and cut the kernels of corn off the cob. Be sure you also scrape the cobs with the blade of the knife to get the 'corn milk' out of the cob stalks.

Now add the sliced-off kernels and the 'milk' to the pot with the bacon and onions and stir everything together will. Then pour in the can of Rotel tomatoes (liquid and all!) and mix everything once more. At this point, cover the pot, turn the fire down to 'low,' and stew (fricassee means to stew) the corn with the tomatoes for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a heavy 4 quart Dutch oven, bring the 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Then spoon in the chicken base, stir it around until it is completely dissolved and lower the fire to medium.

At this point, cut the sausage into half-inch dice pieces and drop them into the stock. Note you don't want them to boil rapidly; just a slow 'bubble' will do. After cooking about 30 minutes (with the lid on the pot), the sausage pieces should be very tender. Go ahead and take them out of the water with a strainer spoon and push them down into the stewing corn. Cover the pot again fire still set at low and continue to fricassee the kernels.

Next bring the water you used to cook the sausage back to a rolling boil. Then gently drop the broccoli florets into the pot. Now immediately turn off the fire, cover the pot and poach the florets for about 4 minutes (or until they are just tender you still want them a little crunchy when they come out of the pot: the residual heat will finish cooking them to perfection.)

When the broccoli is done, take a slotted spoon, remove the florets from the stock and place them into a 10x14 Pyrex baking dish. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside momentarily.

Finally, in a fine-mesh colander, wash the rice to remove all the excess starch. Then, bring the same stock you used to boil the sausage and poach the broccoli back to a rolling boil and thoroughly stir in the rice.

Now, here's the trick. Before the water comes back to a boil, you're going to have to pour off all but about an inch covering the rice. Let me put it another way if you can take your index finger, put it into the pot, touch the rice with the tip of your finger, and have the water level come up to the first joint of your finger...It's perfect!

All you do is cover the pot tightly, reduce the fire to very low, and cook the rice until it absorbs all the water which should take about 12 to 14 minutes. Actually, the rice is really absorbing the flavored stock, all the richness from the sausage, and the essence of the broccoli. I do suggest, however, that about every 4 minutes or so, you uncover the pot, take a fork, fluff up the rice, and make sure it isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Then when you're ready to eat, dish up the hot rice, ladle over the top of it a big helping of the corn and sausage fricassee, and serve it alongside the flavored broccoli. As they say in back-a-town New Orleans, dem's some mighty fine groceries, y'all!


Chef's Notes:

1. Depending upon the kind of chicken base you use, it may take more or less base dissolved in the water to give you the correct flavoring for the stock. Ideally, you want it flavored to the point of saying to yourself, 'Yep that would make a great chicken soup!'

2. For added intensity, you might want to substitute a flavored rice (like basmati or jasmine) for the long grain variety. It gives the dish a whole new dimension. And if you're on a sugar-watcher regimen you can also use brown rice.

3. By the way, because of the intense flavoring of the stock, none of these dishes needs any additional salt or pepper.