I hear many of you wondering: what is dirty rice?
First of all, it’s extraordinarily delicious and you probably shouldn’t do anything else until you’ve made it, for nothing else matters when rice is on the line. Dirty rice is a Louisiana Creole/Cajun dish made from white rice, various meats and vegetables, the Cajun trinity (green pepper, celery, and onion), and a gravy-like sauce called a roux. Every bite is rich, buttery, and jam-packed with flavor. It’s the perfect feel-good dish, especially when you just went on a hike for the first time in weeks and you’re feeling exceptionally hungry after the small amount of exertion you did. And I suppose in other situations as well.
Most other recipes for dirty rice call for a couple hours of cook time, but I found that the dish is just as good with just an hour of effort, letting you spend less time cooking dinner and more time watching dance videos on YouTube. Everyone in my house went back for third helpings of this and encouraged me to make it again soon. I hope it turns out to be one of your favorites as well!
Cajun Dirty Rice
- Oil, salt, and pepper
- 1 lb 80/20 ground beef
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- ¼ cup vegetable oil ie avocado, sunflower, or canola
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 medium carrots diced
- ½ large yellow onion diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1 rib of celery diced
- ⅓ cup water
- 1-2 tbsp cornstarch
- 4 strips bacon crumbled
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- Scallions to garnish
- Cook the beef: Heat some oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and add the cayenne, cumin, and garlic powder. Sauté until fully cooked, then remove to a separate bowl along with any and all juices.
- Cook the rice: Boil 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Rinse the rice well and add it to the boiling water along with the bay leaves. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes while you proceed with the recipe.
- Make the roux: Add the vegetable oil to the same Dutch oven as before (don't clean it out). Heat until very hot and smoking slightly, turn the heat down a bit, add the flour, and begin to stir with a wooden spoon. Stir constantly until the roux darkens to the color of milk chocolate, anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes.
- Cook the vegetables: Once the roux is dark enough, add the vegetables (onion, carrot, celery, and green bell pepper) to the Dutch oven and stir to coat with the roux. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and glistening, about 10 minutes. Add ⅓ cup water, the cornstarch, and any juices from the beef, stirring until the mixture has thickened and resembles gravy.
- Assemble: Remove the bay leaves from the rice. Stir together the ground beef, vegetable mixture, bacon bits, rice, and salted butter. Taste for salt, adding more if needed. Garnish with chopped scallions and serve hot.