Cajun Dirty RiceThere are as many dirty rice recipes as there are southern cooks, but authentic dirty rice recipes always include chicken giblets of some kind - the kidney, heart, gizzard and liver. This is just one of those Cajun dishes that was born out of the tradition of using every part of the animal in meals. Also, when we cook rice in the south, which we do regularly, we tend to cook a bunch so that there's just about always some rice hanging around in the fridge. This dish is a great way to use some of that leftover rice, which I feel surely must've had something to do with its creation in the first place.
The giblets are what creates the "dirty" look to the rice, because they impart a color that clings to rice and gives it a sort of, well, dirty look. Without them it really isn't dirty rice at all because it is both lacking in the classic color and the unique flavor of the giblets. Still, even "cleaned up" for folks who can't stomach the idea of eating giblets of any kind, it's a darned good dish - so you can omit them if you like.
Although I love it the authentic way, my husband isn't gonna touch a liver or gizzard, least not knowingly, so I usually use a combination of ground beef and hot pork sausage, which while not really authentic, makes a perfectly acceptable dirty rice. Y'all know what I always say - make it the way you like it and that's always the right way, no matter what anybody says.
We treat this more like a rice dressing where I come from, so it is typically served as a side dish often to a blackened or roasted meat, though other folks around the country often serve this is a one skillet, main dish, adding a nice garden salad or green veggie as their side. Dirty rice also serves as a great filling too for things like tacos, burritos, wraps or lettuce cups.
Don't go overboard with the Cajun or Creole seasoning though - all of your seasonings should be to taste and a little bit of cayenne goes a long way! Always start with a little, taste and adjust as needed. Make it a Creole Dirty Rice by adding in 2 cans of drained Rotel tomatoes and 1 small can of tomato sauce.
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Recipe: Cajun Dirty Rice©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 3 slices of bacon, chopped
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 3 toes of garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of chopped jalapenos
- 1 pound of mixed chicken livers & gizzards (or a combination of giblets), trimmed, rinsed and ground or finely chopped
- 1 pound of ground beef or pork
- 1-1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon of Creole or Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
- 4 cups of leftover cooked rice
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- Hot sauce, for the table
Saute the bacon pieces in a cast iron pot until cooked but not crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside. In the bacon drippings, add the onion, bell pepper and celery, cooking until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook for another minute or so. Add all of the ground meats and cook until lightly browned and cooked through. Do not drain. Add the salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and return the bacon to the pot; reduce heat to medium low, cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a small amount of water only if needed to prevent sticking.
Add the rice and green onion, stir together, cover and reduce heat to a medium low simmer. Heat through, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings. May also be kept covered on very low heat and allowed to continue to steam until needed. This dish is often the central feature of a meal so you could serve it with a salad and a veggie, but it is often served as a side dish too.
Serve with hot sauce at the table.
Cook's Notes: Save some time with this dish by using the seasoning blend (typically onion, bell pepper and celery) available fresh in the produce section or in the frozen foods.
Variation: You can eliminate the gizzards and add in additional beef or pork, or a combination of the two. Substitute pork sausage (seasoned raw pork) for part of the ground beef. Make it Creole Dirty Rice by adding 2 cans of drained Rotel diced tomatoes and 1 (8 ounce) tomato sauce.
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