Dirty Rice

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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

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.
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