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Dirty Rice
Beyond the Louisiana state line, this dish is better known by inoffensive names like "Cajun rice" or "rice dressing." But the Big Easy is not for those who are easily offended, and neither is this recipe, which is made with ground chicken gizzards and livers and plenty of onions and garlic. It is fine to substitute an equal amount of beef chuck or pork shoulder meat for the organ meats, but the grinding is essential to distribute the flavors evenly and give the dish its characteristic "dirty" appearance. A fixture at family reunions and church suppers, dirty rice tastes much better than it sounds.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. chicken gizzards
  • 1/2 lb. chicken livers
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus more, to taste
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 6 green onions, white and light green portions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Using a meat grinder, grind the gizzards and livers. Alternatively, place the gizzards and livers in a food processer and pulse briefly until the mixture is chopped but not pureed, about 5 seconds.

In a large, heavy fry pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the ground gizzards and livers, yellow onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and cayenne. Season with salt and black pepper. Sauté, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are browned and very tender, the whole mixture is cooked through, and the flavors have melded, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan over high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Stir in the rice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, uncover and check to see if the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. If not, re-cover and cook for a few minutes more. Remove from the heat and set the rice aside to rest, still covered, for about 10 minutes.

Add the green onions and parsley to the meat mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the green onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until heated through and well blended, 3 to 5 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 10 to 12.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, New Orleans, by Constance Snow (Oxmoor House, 2005).