Happy New Year, Louisianna Style
December 19, 2010 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Please bring me your best Cajun dirty rice recipe for the neophyte. Please hold the gizzards.

I've never made this before but I'm hosting a New Year's Day dinner for eight and as I recall, dirty rice is a Louisianna tradition on this holiday.

There are a ton of recipes online... some call for 1/2lb of pork and beef, some call for 2lbs, some call for canned mushroom soup, some call for sausage*, some call for black eyed peas. Happily, they all say the gizzards are optional - thank God, because that isn't happening.

I don't remember what was in the dirty rice I ate in New Orleans one year, except that it was nom nom. I'm thinking of serving this with slow roasted pork, so please bring me your best suggestions for suitable dirty rice.

*Spicy sausage in the US style will be difficult for me to acquire here. Ground beef or pork is easy.
posted by DarlingBri to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I can't really help you, sadly, but wanted to note that I had some amazing New Orleans dirty rice once (at an airport. In Texas. I'm serious. Don't ask.) and figured "well this doesn't look too hard." And I, too, went through the dizzying array of recipes online boggling at the ones with canned soup, and the few I made were okay. But it turns out it's much harder to get right than I thought. In the end, I concluded it was my squeamishness about gizzards and gave up.

That said, this guy has awesome recipes and here's an authentic one for dirty rice.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:47 PM on December 19, 2010

I too dropped by to link to Chuck's Gumbo Pages (CunningLinguist got there first) as the definitive internet source on the Cajun kitchen. I'd also like to opine that dirty rice with or without gizzards and/or livers is like night and day - it really makes all the difference. Chicken livers are a workable substitute for gizzards, and are easy to come by in most parts of the world, as well - here in the UK they're stocked at virtually all big supermarkets, for example.
posted by Dysk at 4:28 PM on December 19, 2010

If it doesn't have gizzards, it's not dirty rice. Rice + chicken offal = dirty rice. Period. Any recipe that says different is not an authentic recipe. I'm sure you could mock something up that resembled the concept/flavor, but it wouldn't be dirty rice, it would be some sort of "Cajun-style rice pilaf" or maybe a variation on jambalaya.

That said, Chuck's Gumbo Pages is pretty solid. I'm Cajun and have used it a lot myself.

Running into the next room to ask my mother, an actual Cajun home cook: my mom uses the recipe in River Road Recipes. It definitely calls for gizzards, but I can transcribe it for you if you want.

Re sausage - for whatever random reason, my mom defaults to kielbasa for sausage in Cajun dishes. It's a reasonable facsimile for Cajun sausage in my opinion.
posted by Sara C. at 4:47 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wonder if Zatarain's products are semi-readily available in the UK? I found it on Amazon UK if that's an option for you. They make really good Cajun food mixes. When I make Zat's jamalaya I always get rave reviews.
posted by radioamy at 9:51 PM on December 19, 2010

Oh just looked at this again...sorry forgot you're in Ireland not the UK, don't mean to be a total geographical buffoon. But Amazon UK would deliver to where you live, right?
posted by radioamy at 5:42 AM on December 20, 2010

Best answer: Zatarin's spice mixes are indeed quite good. If they can be shipped to your area, that might take some of the x-factors out of preparation.

If all else: This is not capital-D-capital-R dirty rice by any stretch, but it's easy and tasty and sufficiently Cajun-y. Pardon my ignorance if any of the ingredients listed aren't easily obtainable in your area.

- Fry some American-style strips of bacon in a skillet until it's crispy. Set aside the bacon but leave the grease it renders.
- Add a finely-diced onion, jalepeno, red bell pepper, and a few ribs of celery. Season (lightly) with salt, pepper, paprika and minced garlic. Cook until the vegetables are just about soft.
- Add a pot of cold cooked rice and stir it until everything's warm and well-combined.
- With your cooking utensil, push the cooking food away from the middle of the skillet and drop two beaten eggs in the center. Cook it slowly, stirring the egg mass around so that it doesn't burn, until it's just about fully cooked. Stir everything back together.
- Let it cook for another few minutes and then add the crumbled bacon and some chopped fresh parsley.

Like I said, this isn't really a worthy substitute for dirty rice, but it's good in a pinch.

Sara C: My mom's a displaced Cajun and she usually does the same thing (using kielbasa in Cajun recipes that call for sausage). Definitely no substitute for good Louisiana andouille, but it does work well.
posted by kryptondog at 10:27 AM on December 20, 2010


Omit and replace with cayenne pepper in the seasoning or hot sauce added when serving. Cajun != Tex-Mex. We don't ever use whole hot peppers in anything, so there's no reason to go hunting all over Ireland for jalapenos. Also, I would add a bay leaf or two to kryptondog's seasoning suggestions. Even though most people consider "spicy" to be synonymous with "Cajun", it's usually bay leaf that creates the most identifiable Cajun flavor (IMHO of course).
posted by Sara C. at 10:46 AM on December 20, 2010

Sara's correct, of course- jalepeno peppers aren't traditionally found in Cajun cooking at all. That's a bit of a deviation on my part. My family loves them and use them as the go-to spice agent for just about all of the dishes we make, Tex-Mex or otherwise. YMMV.
posted by kryptondog at 11:31 AM on December 20, 2010

Response by poster: I appreciate everyone emptying their family, internet and culinary cupboards to assist my dirty rice endeavour. I think on reflection if actual dirty rice cannot be made without gizzards and I am utterly unwilling to cook with gizzards, I will probably not make this dish for my new year's day guests.

I am, however, going to make kryptondog's recipe with Sara C's cayenne pepper for our own good eating at another time, because that sounds delicious.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:44 PM on December 20, 2010

Response by poster: PS: Sadly, Amazon reports that Zatarain Dirty Rice Mix 227g cannot be shipped to the selected address. Bummer :(
posted by DarlingBri at 4:46 PM on December 20, 2010

I'll send you some you'll send me some Irish After Eights, which just don't taste the same in the US....
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:52 PM on December 20, 2010

posted by CunningLinguist at 4:53 PM on December 20, 2010

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