Cajun-Creole Sidecajun dirty rice

Dirty Rice
(Serves 8)

A traditional Cajun dish—so-called because the meat gives the rice a dark, "dirty" color. You know the saying: a little dirt never hurt anyone!

2 T bacon drippings
2 T flour
1 lb. chicken giblets (chopped)
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork*
1 C onion (chopped)
1/2 C green pepper (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
2 C chicken stock
1 T dried mint (crushed)
2 T Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. to 1/2 tsp. pepper flakes (according to taste)
6 C cooked rice
1/2 C fresh parsley (chopped)
1/2 C scallions (diced)

First: in a heavy large skillet, add flour to bacon drippings and brown flour till it turns a deep reddish brown. Stir continually to make sure it doesn't burn. (This is a brown roux—see sidebar.)

Next: add all 3 meats, stirring to brown and break up clumps. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic, stirring and cooking till vegetables are soft. Stir in broth and seasonings, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.

Finally: add rice, parsley, and scallions. Cook 5-10 more minutes, uncovered. (It should be moist.) Serve as a side dish with chicken or pork, or use it as filling for stuffed peppers. You can also serve it as a main dish.

* Some recipes call for sausage instead of, or in addition to, ground pork.

| See more Cajun-Creole recipes |

Tips & Glossary

Creole cooking, centered around New Orleans, blends French, Spanish, and African cuisines. Its origin is pre-civil war and more aristocratic than Cajun cuisine.

The word Cajun, associated with the Bayou backwaters of Louisiana, comes from "Acadian," French Canadians deported to the "Acadian" region of Louisiana. Cajun cuisine is simpler, spicier, and more countrified than its Creole cousin.

Blonde Roux (or Creole roux): used to thicken stews, especially Etouffee. Melt 1 part fat and gradually add 1 part flour. Stir constantly over medium-low heat till mixture is a light golden brown (10 minutes or so).

Brown Roux (or Cajun roux): used as a thickener for gumbo. Follow recipe for blond roux but continue stirring for a longer time, till you achieve a rich brown, mahogany color. Be careful not to burn it.

Cajun seasoning: a seasoned salt; buy it at most grocery stores or make your own in a blender: 3 T each of black pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, oregano, and 3 bay leaves. Add the ground spices to a standard 26 oz. box of salt. You can also add basil, nutmeg, paprika, or thyme. Experiment.

Chile Powder dried, ground hot chili peppers; an ingredient in chili powder (see below).

Chili Pepper: any small, hot pepper, as opposed to larger, milder bell peppers; includes, cayenne (red), chipotle (smoke-dried jalapeños), habanero, jalapeño, paprika, poblano, serrano, and tabasco.

Chili Powder: different from chile powder (see above); dried ground chili peppers typically mixed with cumin, garlic powder, and oregano. You can make your own blend with cinnamon, cloves, coriander, even nutmeg. Briefly heat dried peppers and spices in a skillet to release flavors, then grind them into powder.

Crabmeat: meat from body, legs or claws of numerous varieties of crab. Most prized is jumbo lump from the hind leg. But for crab cakes and casseroles, use regular lump, as well as finback from the body. Claw meat is brown and stronger flavored, though also good for crab recipes. Buy it fresh if you can.

File Powder: also called “gumbo powder”; a spice made from dried, ground sassafras leaves. Used as flavoring and thickener in Cajun cooking, especially gumbo.

Holy Trinity: the combination of diced onions, bell peppers, and celery, which forms the basis of flavor in Cajun and Creole cooking, especially Gumbo, Jambolaya, and Etoufee.


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