You might be saying, “Dirty rice? That doesn’t sound appetizing,” but if you have never had dirty rice, you are missing out. It’s yummy and a great way to start adding liver to your diet. The recipe also makes use of whole grains, assorted vegetables and stock. Every family has some go to meals that incorporate healthy food and stretch the budget. Recipes featuring home-made stock, whole grains and organ meats are good thrifty choices. Home-made stock can be made with leftover bones and assorted wilty vegetables. In spite of these humble beginnings, a good stock is nutritionally worth its weight in gold. Organ meats can be obtained cheaply. The chickens we buy come with giblets. Rather than throw the livers away, I freeze them, well labeled, until I want to make paté or dirty rice. You could also use your holiday turkey leftovers to make this dish. It’s a welcome change from turkey sandwiches.
The first time I ever tried dirty rice, it was on a restaurant buffet table. The restaurant specialized in down home Southern cooking. I think I first tried jambalaya at the same restaurant. I don’t think the dirty rice was labeled as such. Restaurants in the Midwest hesitate, understandably, to put the adjective “dirty” on any of their food. Fortunately a friend of mine who had lived in the South identified the dish for me. I must have liked it because I looked up a recipe and hand wrote it in my little cookbook/ diary.
There are definitely more complicated and more authentic recipes available, but here’s an easy one that makes me happy. Start the stock early in the day or make it overnight in your crock pot. If you already have home-made stock, go ahead and use that. You can add chicken that is leftover from making the stock or cook up some ground beef or turkey to add protein to the rice. I didn’t have fresh parsley. The dish is more presentable with some green sprinkled on top, so I enjoyed the rice sprinkled with crumbled kale chips. You know, the leftover crumbles in the bottom of the bag that you don’t want to waste. Talk about thrifty!
1 stewing hen with giblets
splash of apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups rice (I used this Gourmet Blend)
1 green or red pepper (or a little of both colors), seeds removed and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped – reserve leafy tops for stock
1 large onion, finely chopped – reserve ends and peels for stock
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons butter or 1 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil and 1 Tbl. coconut oil (click to buy good oils)
sea salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon or more cayenne
1 bunch parsley, chopped
Remove the chicken liver and set aside. Place the chicken, neck and remaining giblets in a stock pot. Cover with filtered water and a splash of apple cider vinegar. You may also add your celery tops and onion peels. Allow everything to simmer for several hours to tenderize the meat and make a rich stock. If you haven’t made stock with giblets included before, you may notice a slightly darker color and taste to this stock. Follow the cooking directions for your chosen rice, replacing the water in the recipe with some of the rich stock. For whole grain rice, it will be about 2 cups liquid per one cup of rice. Reserve 1/2 cup of stock for later. You may also use wine for part of the cooking liquid if you are feeling gourmet or have some cooking wine to use up.
Meanwhile, remove the meat from the chicken bones. All meat is usable, including small pieces of neck meat. Cut large pieces into bite sized pieces. Set the meat aside. Heat the butter in a sauce pan and add the chicken liver. Brown the liver on all sides. You do not need to cook it all the way through. Remove the liver from the pan and add the vegetables to the butter. Add more butter or oil if it seems dry. Sauté the pepper, onion and celery until the onion begins to look translucent. Add the crushed garlic along with salt, pepper and cayenne. Coarsely slice the liver. Add the 1/2 cup additional stock to the cooked vegetables. Add the reserved chicken (or cooked ground meat), sliced liver and cooked rice. Toss everything together gently and season to taste. Cover the pan and simmer everything over very low heat for about five minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Toss in the fresh parsley (in my case, crumbled kale chips) just before serving.