Sunday, April 24, 2016
Cajun Dirty Rice
I discovered this dish through the Zatarain’s box meal. I had played with adding things to the box meal. I made a Southwestern style version by adding Ortega mild green chiles, fresh diced onions, roasted garlic, diced petite tomatoes, olives, corn, and cheese. I added peas and carrots with onion and roasted garlic. I took it off my menus as I started to cook more and more from scratch. I thought it was just ground beef and rice with various Cajun/Creole seasonings.
In April of 2016, I decided to make the dish from scratch. I went looking for recipes. This time I had help. My mom was sending me tons of dirty rice recipes. Among them was Justin Wilson’s brother’s recipe. This was first published in 1965, by Wilson. Justin Wilson was a famous Cajun humorist and chef. He had various cooking shows on PBS from 1971 to the 1990’s. As a teenager I watched those shows. I watched them with my uncle Bob when I would visit Grandma Mac’s house when he still lived there. Bob owns several of Wilson’s cookbooks. He is definite a fan. I have fond memories of watching Louisiana Cooking with Justin Wilson with him, as well as Yan Can Cook with Martin Yan.
The recipe is fairly simple, but it is an old school recipe so it calls for some serious simmering. You simmer the meat mixture for 4 hours. The ingredients are ground beef, ground pork, ground chicken hearts and gizzards, Worcestershire sauce, green bell pepper, celery, onions, garlic, salt, bay leaves, parsley, green onions, rice, and cream of mushroom soup. I added 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the dish. It is a huge dish, it is meant to feed 10 people.
I made it on April 22, 2014. I did my mise en place (prep work/chopping the vegetables) first. I had to grind the chicken giblets (hearts and gizzards) myself. The copy of the recipe I found said chicken giblets, but the video I watched Justin Wilson himself said hearts and gizzards. I went with Mr. Wilson’s instructions. I used my electric kettle to simmer everything except the rice and cream of mushroom soup for the requisite 4 hours. I made the rice in batches during the simmering. I was unable to use the electric kettle for the last simmering segment. This step is adding the rice to the meat and mushroom soup mixture. My kettle was not large enough. I had to do that step on the stove. I liked this so much better than the box. I can also play with the flavor myself. I love this version of the dish, but I want to use some more seasoning to it. More cayenne may be needed. This was a serious success, I guarantee.