sorta dirty bits – dirty rice

Let’s walk a chain of concepts.

A basic rice recipe is one cup of rice and two cups of water added to a saucepan. Bring to a boil (stirring occasionally), turn down to a simmer, give it a last stir, put on a lid, and leave it alone for 11 minutes. Pull it from the heat, fluff the rice, and serve it. Ain’t that easy?

Now let’s get a touch fancier. Instead of using water, let’s use broth. Same instructions. The rice is NOT a risotto, just a richer tasting rice.

Now let’s saute up a cup of trinity (two parts onion, one part each bell pepper and carrot, all chopped fine to medium) in a bit of oil. Pour our broth over that first, then pour it all over the rice and make rice. Even better. Oh, and here we can go sideways. If we sauteed up our veggies in a pan that has a fairly tight-fitting lid, we can just add our rice to that pan instead of moving across.

One more step. Coarsely chop (or 1/4 to 1/2 inch cube) some meat – say, chicken – and brown it first. Pull the meat, saute the trinity. Add the meat and the broth, stir, and either add the rice (preferred, don’t forget the need for a lid) or pour over rice in a saucepan. Make rice. Delicious.

Now we get to the “waitaminute”. Dirty rice uses a particular kind of meat. It uses livers and gizzards – and maybe (if you have it) necks and backs. Now you can pull a ‘fast’ one for the broth here by boiling the neck and back in a couple of cups of water for a couple of hours, then stripping the meat from the bones and adding back to the water. It’s a pretty good – and simple – broth.

What you have, now, is a brownish rice that’s laden with flavor. Can you taste the liver? Yeah, a little bit. What with the other meat and the veggies and the broth, however, it’s a background, not dominant.

By the way, while I learned this from Kansas/Colorado cooking (grandmother’s cookbook strikes again), it’s considered a ‘cajun’ dish, or maybe a ‘southern’ dish. Seems those folk down south think nobody else is poor enough to use everything edible. Anyway, it’s real common down south to add a bit of cayenne to the mix. It hides the liver a bit, if that helps.

When you eat it, it feels a little, well, rich, filling the mouth with taste. If you’re serving it I highly recommend something that’ll cut through it as a second side. A three bean salad or pickled beets or any lightly pickled salad or slaw works well for this.

You can use the liver and other organs of other animals as well. It’s just that most such animals have large enough organs they make a full contribution to the meal all by themselves.


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