Dirty Rice

Jump to Recipe

I’m fascinated with Louisiana. Maybe it’s because I’m from California and our cuisine has no history. In my opinion, Californian food means locally grown and fresh, which is great and all, but I don’t find any culture in it. It’s too new. I’m sure I’m taking it for granted. I love living here and would never move (except to Hawaii and I LOVE their food, but that’s for another day). Southern food has a history to it that California doesn’t.

In high school, I read The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Her book was my introduction to Louisianian culture. The part that interested me the most were the Creoles, a people of mixed colonial French, African American and Native American descent, and Cajuns, or Acadians, who are also from French descent, but distinctly their own with a full rich history.

I went to New Orleans in high school and fell in love with the food: gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, blackened fish, beignets, and the list goes on. I remember eating the most amazing chocolate pecan pie in New Orleans that ruined me for life. No other pie can live up to it.

Louisiana made such an impression that I wanted to make the food, but I have never made Dirty Rice until now. You’re probably wondering why one would want to eat something with the word “dirty” in it. That doesn’t sound very good. But it’s easy to make, delicious, inexpensive, and filling. Can it get any better than that? Dirty Rice is a Creole dish made from rice that turns “dirty” from being cooked with meat, cayenne, and black pepper. Today, Dirty Rice commonly contains pork, beef, or chicken. Historically, the meats were organ meats, which were the cheapest cuts that the slaves could afford. The meat would be cooked and finely chopped, creating a broth that colored the rice. After the slaves were freed, this dish remained popular with the poorer people of Louisiana, both black and white, both Creole and Cajun.

The recipe I used came from the kitchn. I didn’t modify the recipe at all, but it would be easy to. I used 12 ounces of andouille sausage, but you can substitute it with another type of sausage, ground beef, chopped up chicken thighs, or even ground turkey.

First gather your ingredients.

Dirty Rice

Next, dice up your meat and veggies, and measure out the rice and seasonings. Open up a can of chicken broth unless you’re fancy and have homemade broth on hand. Not me.

Grab a dutch oven or other large pot, fry up the sausage in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil, and remove when browned. Next, add the holy trinity, which consists of chopped onion, celery, and bell peppers, and is common in Creole and Cajun dishes. Cook for several minutes until soft. Add rice, garlic, and your seasonings. The recipe says to cook this until the rice crackles, but that sounds scary and my rice merely sizzled. Maybe that’s the same thing. Who knows?

Dirty Rice

Add broth, water, and sausage, and simmer it on low.

Dirty Rice

Half way through, stir it so everything is well mixed.

Dirty Rice

When the rice is tender, take it off the burner and let it rest, covered, for another 5 minutes. Scoop a portion onto a plate and throw some green onions on top. Now it’s time to eat!

Dirty Rice

Although it has plenty of black pepper and cayenne, it isn’t too spicy. I love the caramelized sausage, which gives it smoky and sweet notes. Don’t skip the garnish. The green onions add a nice crunch. The boys approved of this meal, particularly because the younger boy could easily pick out the Holy Trinity. He also didn’t get any green onions. Definitely try this. Everyone will love and it’s super simple to cook. It also makes great leftovers!

Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice

Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 ounces cooked andouille sausage diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 medium celery stalks diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 medium green onions sliced

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a plate and set aside.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the rice, garlic, bay leaf, salt, oregano, thyme, black pepper, and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice makes a crackling/sizzling sound, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the broth, water, and reserved sausage. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil. Stir the rice and spread into an even layer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir the rice, cover again, and cook undisturbed until the rice is tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. All the liquid should be absorbed.
  • Remove from the heat and let it sit covered for 5 minutes for the rice to steam. Fluff the rice with a fork and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with the green onions and serve.

Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole

Jump to Recipe

I continued my search for casseroles that are easy and delicious. I wanted something with a little Asian influence so when I came across Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole from the Food Network, I was pleased. It looked easy to make and promising enough. Alas, this casserole became my nemesis. The first two attempts were complete failures, but I was determined to get it right. The third time was a charm and I’m here to give you my version of this dish. It’s really simple once you figure out that you need to layer, not “evenly scatter” the ingredients, add enough liquid, and cook it long enough. I have no idea how the original could ever work.

Gather your ingredients: rice, veggies, chicken., light coconut milk, broth, red curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime, peanuts, and cilantro. I stuck to the same ingredients that were in the recipe. Nothing to change there.

In a casserole pan, add a layer of rice. The original recipe wants you to mix the rice with the veggies and chicken, but this was a bad idea and caused failures to attempts #1 and #2. Who likes crunchy rice? Not me. You need the rice completely submerged in the liquid so it’ll cook.

Next, slice up your peppers and onions. Cut the broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces. Layer over your rice. Do not mix it!

Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole

Slice your chicken. I like to slice the chicken last to avoid cross contamination with the veggies. It probably doesn’t matter in this case because we’re cooking the veggies, but it’s a habit I like to practice.

Layer your chicken over the veggies. Do not mix it! (Note my general theme.)

Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole

Looks good. Now you need your liquid that will cook the rice. In my first attempt, I used the amounts listed in the recipe. It turned out not to be enough liquid so after 50 minutes, I kept adding cups of water every 10 minutes while I tried to wash the rice off the veggies and chicken to get the rice to cook. After 80 minutes, it was edible enough to eat, but I was extremely disappointed. I hate when dinner is late and we were all very hangry at this point.

In my second attempt, I used more broth, but because I followed the recipe and mixed the ingredients, once again I was smushing the rice down after it had been cooking for 50 minutes to get the rice to cook properly. I almost had crunchy rice on my hands, but I managed to rescue it.

Still frustrated but confident that my third attempt would work, I mixed the wet ingredients and poured it over the casserole. I checked that the rice was fully submerged. It was. I was good to go! I popped it in the oven and prayed to the cooking gods that all would go well. Meanwhile, I chopped up some salted peanuts and fresh cilantro for a garnish. I had plenty of time while the casserole cooked so I sneaked in a couple of episodes of HGTV while making the boy’s lunch.

I checked on the casserole after 45 minutes. Not ready so I continued to babysit it, checking the rice every five minutes. After 60 minutes, it was done! I cautiously took a bite of rice. Delicious. I could taste the spice of the curry paste, the saltiness of the fish sauce, the sweetness of the brown sugar, and the acidity of the lime. The flavors were perfect and so were the veggies, cooked yet still firm. Adding the peanuts added an extra crunch and reminded me of pad Thai.

With my changes, I completely recommend this casserole. Did I mention not to mix the rice?

Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole
Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole

Spicy Thai Red Curry Chicken Casserole

Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 medium red pepper sliced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion sliced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 14 ounces canned light coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray.
  • Add a layer of rice to the bottom of the pan. Evenly scatter a layer of broccoli, red pepper, and onion. Top with chicken slices. Season with salt and pepper.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, broth, curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice. Pour the mixture over the ingredients in the pan, making sure the lquid covers the rice. Bake until the rice is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed, 60 minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and cilantro before serving.