Not So “Dirty” Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice is a traditional Creole dish, which gets its “dirty” color from diced chicken livers. Don’t like chicken livers? Then this “un”dirty rice recipe is for you!

Traditional Creole Dish

We love spicy foods around here, and we love exploring various cuisines.

But I refuse to eat chicken livers. I know it’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. We occasionally make cow tongue (it’s like the most tender pot roast you’ve ever had), so I’m relatively adventurous.

Still, I have a mental block when it comes to chicken livers. Or, really, any liver. And most other organs, come to think on it.

I love jambalaya, I love Cajun seasoning (Cajun and Creole are not the same ethnic groups, cultures, or cuisines, fyi), I love a good country boil, and I want to learn to make gumbo.

So you know this Dirty Rice recipe is right up my alley.

Family Favorite

It is also one of Mr. Alexander’s and Biscuit’s favorite meals!

I started making Dirty Rice long before 12 y/o Biscuit was born. Around the time he was two, I started serving it to him. Sometimes he ate it, sometimes he didn’t. As toddlers do.

NOTE: I have taken out all the cayenne so it’s not too spicy, and Mr. Alexander and I doctor it at the table. This is totally an option if you don’t like spicy foods!

For the last four or five years, as soon as I say, “We’re having Dirty Rice rice for dinner,” I hear “YES” shouted in stereo.

I imagine that many families in the New Orleans/Louisiana area have their own family recipe, but this is the one I’ve developed over time. It may or may not be anything remotely traditional, but it’s a tradition in our house!

Get Thyself A Dutch Oven

Yes, I made this recipe for years in a regular metal stock pot, but let me tell you, if you have a Dutch oven, use that instead!

I have two (yes, two, because I’m a foodie. And, yes, we have needed them at the same time.)

My preference for Dirty Rice, as well as most soups and stews, is this one:

It’s technically a French oven. What is the difference between a French oven and a Dutch oven? I have no idea.

Either way, this baby is my go-to. I love that it has a flat bottom instead of curved.

The other Dutch oven I have is this one:

This Dutch oven is a workhorse. We use it to make Mr. Alexander’s Special Chicken Broth. I haven’t posted that recipe yet on the blog, but I have used the broth in this Hearty Chicken Soup For Two recipe.

Note the color, my dears. That chicken stock is unlike anything you’ve tasted. It’s also super simple to make your own broth. Next time we make it, I’ll snap some pics!

What Ingredients Are In Dirty Rice?

All the good stuff.

This particular recipe includes celery, onion, red pepper, green pepper, ground pork, bacon (!) and a mess of spices.

No chicken livers. I promise.

Dirty Rice Ingredients

Dirty Rice is actually quite simple. It starts with a mixture similar to a mirepoix, which is the base of many French dishes. Creole and Cajun cooking use the “holy trinity”. Both are basically a mix of aromatics cooked low and slow, then flavors are built over it with spices, etc.

TIP: All of these ingredients can be prepped in advance to make it a relatively quick meal on a busy weeknight.

ANOTHER TIP: If you use the chopper on my Gear Corner page, your veg prep time is, like, 5 minutes. And y’all know how I feel about pre-minced garlic!

Mirepoix or holy trinity dirty rice

You’re actually not supposed to let the veggies brown, but I did promise to always be honest… I had the heat a little high. The heat should be at medium low for this stage, letting those veggies sweat rather than brown.

After the veggies are sweated until the onion is translucent and the peppers soft, add your spices and mix until incorporated and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the rice and let it soak up the spices and the moisture from the veggies, about 5 minutes.

A THIRD TIP: We use basmati rice for almost everything. It has a delicate mouthfeel we prefer and can be bought in bulk at CostCo or Sam’s Club. However, if you use long grain rice, you’ll need to either reduce the amount of rice or increase the amount of broth. For myself, when I have made this with long grain rice, I still use 1-1/2 cups of rice, but up the stock to about 2-1/2 cups, then test as it absorbs and add as needed.

Next up, add in the ground pork, bacon bits, and chicken broth. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Then, voila!

Remember, you can remove the cayenne if some members of your family don’t like spicy foods (or adjust down). You can then doctor it at the table to everyone’s palate. We use Slap Ya Mama, which is made in Louisiana.

Cajun Seasoning

I hope you enjoy this Dirty Rice recipe as much as my family does!

P.S. This recipe makes great leftovers!

Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice is a traditional Creole dish, which gets its "dirty" color from diced chicken livers. Don't like chicken livers? Then this "un"dirty rice recipe is for you!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: Bacon, dirty rice, pork, rice
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • ½ lb bacon diced
  • 1 tbsp reserved bacon fat (or EVOO)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • cups basmati rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or more as needed)

Instructions

  • Over medium heat in a Dutch oven, brown ground pork until no longer pink. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, crisp bacon. Drain and set aside, reserving 1 tbsp of the fat.
  • While the pork and bacon are cooking, chop the onion, celery, green and red pepper, and garlic. (Or use pre-chopped garlic.)
  • In the Dutch oven, heat the reserved bacon fat over medium low heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, green and red peppers. Sweat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add cayenne (if using), salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Stir to incorporate and continue to sweat vegetables for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in rice and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add pork, bacon, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is done, adding more stock if needed. Serve immediately. ½

Notes

To save time, you can prep all the ingredients in advance. 
We use basmati rice, and the proportion of 1½ cups rice to 2 cups is pretty spot on. If you use long grain rice, you’ll either need to reduce the amount of rice to 1 cup, or increase the amount of stock closer to 3 cups. Either way, I recommend that when the chicken broth is mostly absorbed, you simply do a little taste test and add stock in 1/4 cup increments. 
This recipe can be made without cayenne, or you can add cayenne or Cajun seasoning at the table to accommodate different palates. 
This recipe is great for leftovers!

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