Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cajun Dirty Rice

Authentic dirty rice usually contains gizzards & livers, or some other form of giblets, but don't fret if you don't like them. You can simply increase the beef or pork and still have a wonderful meal. Take it easy on the Cajun seasoning though - add a little, taste and adjust!

Cajun Dirty Rice

There 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.

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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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on November 29, 2008
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  1. Yum, sounds good. I make Dirty Rice but don't put liver or gizzards in it, just the hamburger and all those good seasonin's. You always make me hungry!

  2. Wow! Recipe looks very similar to mine (sans liver/gizzards) but I do add a couple cans of "Rotel" and tomato past to thicken. My boys like to put ketchup on it....I add more hot sauce!

  3. Oh wow, I'll have to try it sometime with the Rotel - sounds good!! I'm with ya on the hot sauce too. Personally I love it with the giblets but my husband will not touch it with that in there!

  4. Hi

    If using the giblets, do you still need the bacon.

  5. Hey Jackie! I would, but I'd say that would be a personal preference - it's just another layer of flavor, and IMHO bacon makes everything better, so I say go for it!

  6. Ooh, I LOVE dirty rice. But I must admit I have never made it from scratch, only from a box of Zatarains. I will be trying it this way, sans gizzards, next time!

  7. I think you'll find it very easy - hope you like it!

  8. The rice it self is already cooked? Then cooked again with everything else? Just want to confirm... Can't wait to try it.

    1. Yes, already cooked rice! It's a great way to use up leftover rice - enjoy!!

  9. I will try this but WITHOUT the liver/gizzards...

  10. I took a similar recipe -minus the liver and gizzards- and modified it more to our liking by adding bigger pieces of onion, green, red and yellow bell peppers. We call it confetti rice and serve it with black beans, which makes it look a little "dirty" when all stirred together!

  11. Can't wait to try this, with the livers and gizzards!

  12. I like to use ground gizzards and some good fresh sausage. :)

  13. STOP. You are giving away all of our Southern secrets! I made a gumbo for a small army of teachers (30 people, 90 servings made). It took 16 hours to cook b/c I don't have a professional kitchen. They wanted a list of ingredients... I refused to give them out. Lets face it, the spices in that gumbo are MINE. Not giving them away - its a family secret. I wont' even teach the kids the recipie until they get married or become a priest / nun.

    Joking aside (and I'm not 100% joking... maybe 70%...) I love your site. Someone shared it with me on fb and I am a Southern food junkie so I'm having a ball checking out your site and the way other people make dishes that differ from my own.

    1. I can't say I blame you on holding onto that gumbo recipe after all that labor!! On the other hand, Mama never gave me her gumbo either and she passed away in '97 and I've been trying to recreate it with no success ever since. I don't know what she did different from me, but there's something I just can't quite figure out.

      Thanks so much for letting me know that you're enjoying the site and do please come back to visit again!

  14. I am making Dirty Rice from scratch today for the first time. I am using what I have on hand which are some Johnsonville Italian sausage and some Hillshire smoked sausage. I am not using the livers and gizzards because I do not like livers and my grandson who is eight will be eating with us tonight. He is rather picky. What do you serve with Dirty Rice? Everything is in there but the kitchen sink.

    1. 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. Goes well with many meats - baked chicken, pan roasted pork chops even fried catfish!

  15. Hi, thanks for sharing. I'm making this tonight with gizzards. I don't have Cajun seasoning but I do have Creole seasoning and Old Bay seasoning. Will either if these be a good substitute for Cajun? Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Nicki! Sorry for the delay but I try to take a little time away from the site on weekends. :) Creole seasoning actually has a few more herbs and seasonings to it, but that will work, or you could use plain cayenne red pepper. As always, start with a little, taste and adjust. You may like yours with less heat, or even more heat than what I write it for!

  16. No additional liquid needed?

    Plan to try this - looks good. I dearly love gizzards and liver of all kinds (chicken, beef, and pork) but can't have organ meats any longer. Really miss liver and onions and fried chicken livers. Will substitute pork sausage.

    1. No, because you're using already cooked rice. Pork sausage and ground beef makes for a very acceptable dirty rice. Not quite authentic, but still very tasty!

  17. Just made this. YUMMMM!!! Next time I'll add the chicken livers for depth of flavor.

    1. It's a pretty good dish just with the beef and/or sausage, and I'm so glad that you enjoyed it!!

  18. I love the giblets I would so put them in minus the liver,just doesn"t sound like it would be all that good in it .I do like liver..


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