June 27, 2011

Dirty Rice

1/2 lb ground turkey thighs
1/2 lb chicken livers, pureed
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 large bunch spring onion, bulbs and greens diced (separate use)
2 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano*
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/3 cups chicken stock (divided use)
2 1/2 cups hot cooked white rice**

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat some oil. Add the meat and the white parts of the spring onion. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large chunks until it is nearly caramelized and is starting to stick to the pan. Add 1/3 cup of chicken stock and spices and cook until the stock evaporates. Add the vegetables and cook until they are soft.

Stir in the rice, herbs, remaining stock and chopped spring onion greens. Stir until the liquid is absorbed then serve.

*I used hot and spicy oregano from my herb garden
**I cooked ours in our rice cooker using chicken stock instead of water along with a bay leaf and some fresh oregano

My thoughts:
This was so, so good! Dirty rice gets its name from its appearance but don't let that (or the liver) keep you from making this dish. It is a great alternative to rice pilaf as a side dish but honestly, I'd be happy eating a bowl of this as my whole entree. It is just really satisfyingly hardy yet light with the right amount of spice.
This is a slightly quicker way to make dirty rice than many recipes I've seen. Since it uses cooked rice, there is no worry that the rice will be undercooked. Despite the absence of a long simmering time, the meat is incredibly tender because of the evaporating broth step and the juices the vegetables release when they are added. I like adding a bit of extra onion (especially sweet spring onion) in with the meat at the beginning because it adds this really rich, caramelized flavor to the final dish. Since the vegetables are added later in the cooking time, they retain a crisper texture and brighter color. Adding the herbs right at the end keeps their flavor fresh.