Dirty Rice

Why is it that so much great food comes out of Louisiana? Case in point, this “dirty” rice. It’s a Cajun classic, and so good that the first time you eat it you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. It’s basically a rice pilaf that is called “dirty” because it’s cooked with minced chicken livers or gizzards, which infuse it with crispy, tasty browned bits. If you aren’t a liver lover, don’t worry, the rice doesn’t taste like liver, the addition just deepens the overall flavor of the rice, and the bits are so small you can’t really distinguish them.

Dirty Rice Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Use green bell peppers if you want a relatively mild result. If you are looking for something spicier, use jalapeño chili peppers.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup long-grain rice (Carolina, basmati, jasmine, etc)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup chicken livers
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper or 1-3 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Method

1 Cook the rice according to the package instructions, but use chicken broth for one third of the cooking liquid. So, for example, if the package says to use 3 cups of water for 1 1/2 cups of rice, use 2 cups of water and 1 cup of chicken broth. Once the rice has finished cooking, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Turn the rice out onto a sheet pan and drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over it. Mix to combine and let cool.

2 While the rice is cooking, mash and finely chop the chicken livers, or purée briefly in a blender. In a large pan that can eventually hold the rice plus everything else, put 1 tablespoon of oil plus the bacon in and cook over medium-low heat until the bacon is crispy.

dirty-rice-1.jpgdirty-rice-2.jpg

3 Add the ground pork and increase the heat to high. Allow the meat to brown before stirring. As soon as the pork starts to brown, add the final tablespoon of oil and add the celery, jalapeños, and onions. Brown them all over medium-high heat. You may notice the bottom of the pan getting crusty. Keep it from burning by lowering the heat if needed. Add the minced liver and cook for a few minutes more.

4 Add the remaining cup of chicken broth and deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the Cajun seasoning and turn the heat to high. Boil away most of the chicken stock and then add the cooked rice. Toss to combine.

5 Turn off the heat and add the green onions. Toss once more to combine and serve hot.

Links:

Wild game dirty rice from Hank of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

21 Comments

  1. ChristineZ

    You don’t know how many times I come to your blog for a good recipe. :) But I just learned something new today, and I don’t know how I haven’t learned it until now, given how many food blogs and cookbooks I read, and how many Cajun/creole dishes I’ve made, family recipe and otherwise. My husband, who grew up in Louisiana, has ALWAYS referred to any sauteed rice dish as “dirty rice.” I just thought it was his colloquialism. Wow. It’s the name of an actual DISH.

  2. Jill

    I’m from Louisiana and I love our food! I love when my favorite food blogs post recipes that I’m familiar with and usually it’s a new spin!
    You must take a trip to New Orleans and visit Mother’s soon. They have the best poboys you will ever eat! (it’s on Poydras and Tchoupitoulas).

  3. Chad Dore

    What a nice surprise to see this here. Growing up in the Cajun area of Louisiana I’ve eaten this my entire life, and the recipes vary quite a bit. Your recipe is a bit fancier than what I normally see, mainly from the bacon and ground beef is often used instead of ground pork. I’m looking forward to trying it out. Try adding a half pint of raw oysters to this, its a fantastic twist, but more subtle than most people would imagine.
    You will commonly find this on the side of fried chicken, barbecue, potato salad and baked beans. Some of our soul food places pour smothered pork gravy on it.

  4. David Sandford

    Thought I’d share my Cajun Spice recipe.

    – It’s actually Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Seasoning (taken directly from his Louisiana Kitchen Cookbook).
    I originally used it when blackening, but then I started using it as Cajun Spice and I’ve never regretted it.

    1 tablespoon Paprika
    2 1/2 teaspoon Salt
    1 teaspoon Onion powder
    1 teaspoon Garlic powder
    1 teaspoon Ground red pepper
    3/4 teaspoon White pepper
    3/4 teaspoon Black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon Dried thyme leaves
    1/2 teaspoon Dried oregano leaves

    You can vary the amounts of all the ingredients to suit your own taste (I often omit the salt and/or add more or less Cayenne depending on the degree of warmth in the spice)

  5. Elizabeth Blunt

    That’s so interesting — I have only ever come across Dirty Rice in Liberia, and assumed it was a Liberian recipe. So did it travel from Africa to the US with the slaves? Or did the Americo-Liberians bring it back with them from the States? Either way it tastes good.

  6. AmandaV

    I have grown up eating this my whole life. Personally, I do not like the taste of ground pork by itself and often use half ground pork/half ground beef or all ground beef. It is all what you like.

  7. zee

    I love the dirty rice recipe, since I don’t eat pork, I’ll omitt the ground pork.
    I’ve cooked chicken livers & gizzards in an Indian curry with gravy & served with rice, this was good.

  8. Julie

    Sounds yummy, except for the liver. I fell for the old “you can’t taste the liver” line once before. You wouldn’t lie to me, would you?

    I don’t taste the liver, but then again, I love liver. You could make it with chicken gizzards instead. If you do that, cut away the tough connecting parts of the gizzard and only use the soft meat. Mince finely. ~Elise

  9. Jacqueline Gavins

    I live in New Orleans and just looking at the rice makes me want to fix some. Actually, you don’t need to have anytning with it because it’s a meal in itself. If you really want to have a “soul food” meal, try having some fried chicken and green peas(side) along with it. It will definitely make your toes wiggle.

  10. Lisa

    Love rice in any form, but especially the ‘dirty’ variety!! I personally use ground beef and bacon, omitting the innerds just because we don’t fancy them, and I go very easy on the spices. And now I have a hankerin’ for rice…dinner tomorrow night, I think!

  11. Mary Morris

    YUMMY! I had leftover hotlinks, which I diced and added instead of the ground pork, and used reduced sodium chicken broth, since the hotlinks are so salty and greasy (but, oh, so good!) Since I added the hotlinks, I just used one seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper along with the rest of the ingredients. My next dinner party will include this dirty rice, BBQ ribs and a fruit salad with lots of watermelon, and yes, beer!

  12. Damon

    Wow…had it tonight, and it was HUGE! Great hit! Thanks Elise…..Now, how do I get the recipe to my own personal file?…I mean, so I can go back to it? :0) It was amazing! Thank you!…(btw…went with the 3 Jalapenos)

  13. Louanne

    Being from south Louisiana, it’s always a delight to see an authentic recipe for a Louisiana classic. I’ve adjusted my dirty rice recipe to the tastes of my husband and son, but when I make it for potlucks, etc, I leave in the gizzards.

  14. Joey

    I made this tonight. I’m a rule-follower by nature, so in general I don’t stray from recipes unless there are very, very compelling reasons to. This was excellent. I will say it was a bit greasy overall, and in retrospect I should have drained the bacon grease before moving on, but the recipe didn’t say to, so I didn’t. Other than the greasiness, my husband and I agreed that it was fantastic. Thanks!

  15. teresa

    Made this on Sunday and I was surprised at how good this came out. I use Andouille sausage instead of ground pork. I skimped on jalapenos, only used 1 1/2 and 1.5 tsp of creole seasoning. I was afraid it would come out to spicy or salty. Since we live in So/Calif, didn’t want spicy food in warm weather, you know how it is, I don’t have to tell you. And it still came out great. I made that with your Panzanella salad and blueberry shortcake recipes you featured this week.

  16. Patty

    Another amazing recipe Elise! I have to admit that I was a little grossed out when I was mincing the liver into a paste (I was too lazy to get the food processor out), but boy, the liver makes all the difference in this dish! I did skim off about 4 tablespoons of the fat after I browned the lean pork. I used three jalapenos and added a few splashes of Tabasco at the very end as we love spicy food in our house. Yummy!

  17. Elizabeth

    Elise, thanks for the great recipe. My husband loves dirty rice, but I have never made it homemade. I decided to try this out. I used 1/2 a green pepper, and half a jalapeno, unsure of how spicy it would be since my 2 year old would be eating it as well. I think next time I will add more jalapeno, and actually add more Cajun seasoning. Other than the smell of raw chicken livers, which has always made me shiver, even after being born and raised in SC, it was easy to make, and very very yummy! :)

    I think we were 3/3 this week for your recipes :)

  18. Natalie in Fort Worth, TX

    Made this recipe tonight with the following changes (based on what I had in the house):
    1. Beef broth instead of chicken
    2. 3/4 lb beef liver — ground in blender.
    3. No pork. Ground up some chicken.
    4. No celery. Added carrot instead.
    5. Used the cajun seasoning from the comments, with just 1/2 t red pepper — was cooking for kids.
    Turned out great! Mildly spicy, but not too much. Thanks!

  19. Hannibal Mo.

    I am a big fan of Popeyes rice, but the drive (St. Louis area) for it makes it far and few between. This recipe surely has held me over.

    Thanks for recipe!

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