Dirty rice has been a personal favorite of mine since high school when I would devour bowls of it from the Dinosaur Bar-b-que. Back in the day, the Dinosaur was something really special. Enormous portions, a lot of smoke and heat, waitresses with bad attitudes, and an eclectic menu that with barbecue that spoke a Memphis dialect but featured a number of Bayou-inspired touches. Now…it’s still a restaurant I enjoy, but it’s not the same. I think the shine wore off when the waitresses were told to stop swearing at the customers. Anyhow, it’s still somewhere The Wife and I enjoy and take people to when they visit. But, it’s just not the same.
Where was I? Oh, right, dirty rice. So, the Dinosaur’s dirty rice would reach up and slap you with heat from the jalepeños and the rich rice that had been sauteed with okra, bell peppers, onion and garlic. The “dirty” comes from the brownish tinge that the rice grains take on from the browned garlic and onions. The rice binds right to this goodness and enhances the flavor. While I didn’t have okra on hand, I went with some cured andouille sausage for some extra flavor.
Dirty rice does not need to cook all that long. The rice toasts, steeps in broth, absorbs the liquid, and hits the table in less than 40 minutes with a lot of flavor.
WHAT WORKED: The sausage. True dirty rice will use regular pork sausage or just ground pork. I thought the andouille would go a long way here and, since it was cured, I had a nice dinner prep snack on the cutting board.
WHAT DIDN’T: Not much.
WHAT DID THE WIFE: The muffled sounds of her undignified eating were enough endorsement for me.
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Yes. Likely this summer when I can get some fresh okra at the farmer’s market.
Dirty Rice (Faux Creole Style)
By Jared Paventi
- canola oil
- 8 to 10 oz. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
- 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups basamati rice
- 2 1/2 cups seafood stock (Kitchen Basics will do, though fresh is always best)
- 16 oz. andouille sausage, sliced into 3/4-inch thick rounds
- 3 tsp. Creole seasoning
In a Dutch oven or large pan, bring oil to a shimmer over medium-high heat then add chicken to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a dish or bowl, and set aside.
Add the pepper and onion to the pan and cook in the remaining oil and chicken juice. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook until fragrant, and add the rice. Stir the rice to mix with the veggies and let the rice toast 2 to 3 minutes. Stir then toast another 2 minutes. Return the burner to medium-high and add the stock. Bring the stock to a boil, add the sausage and browned chicken, and sprinkle Creole seasoning evenly over the pan.
Stir to combine, lower heat to just above medium, cover pan, and cook 20 to 30 minutes. Check periodically to ensure that the stock has not completely absorbed. You want some liquid in the pan, but it should not be soupy. Serve hot.