In honor of the football game this weekend between my alma mater, UF, and SEC rival, LSU, I decided to try my own recipe for the Louisiana originated dirty rice. Unfortunately, we lost a game on our home field that could have been won, and yes, I could be bitter. I used to despise LSU fans (or any opposing fans for that matter), but a friend of mine helped change my perspective a few years ago. We were playing LSU on their field that year, and he was heading to Baton Rouge to tailgate for the game. He said, “I love tailgating at LSU. They have the best food I’ve ever tasted, and everyone is super nice and eager to share.” I have to admit, I have a lot of respect for LSU’s head coach, Ed Orgeron. He’s a heck of likeable guy, and I really wish him all the best of success…just never against UF…ever again.
Fortunately, the dirty rice had better success than our team did. I used to enjoy the boxed version of this recipe when I was in college, but I’ve since been working on nailing down my own recipe for it. I think I’ve now found the right formula, and it was the perfect size for my family (will comfortably feed six people…with a few nibbles for the baby). I tried to keep the spicy content to a minimum to suit all tastes, but the optional crushed red pepper topping will add some heat for interested parties (like me).
A quick note on the puréed vs. chopped liver: You can try chopping the liver by hand (which I don’t recommend), or you can use a mechanical chopper (which I used for the bacon as well). However, a mechanical chopper will take chicken liver from whole to puréed in a fraction of a second, so there’s no use in trying for something in between. The good news is, the puréed liver will blend easily with the ground sausage, creating a more unified taste and texture. Parent tip: Don’t mention the liver to the kiddies, and they’ll never know the difference.
3 slices bacon, chopped
4 cups chicken broth [1 32oz container]
4 tablespoons bacon grease [or butter]
2 pieces bay leaf, dried
2 cups rice [I use Basmati]
1 pound ground sausage
1 pound chicken liver, puréed
1 tablespoon beef base [optional]
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, ground
1/2 teaspoon red pepper, ground
1 teaspoon paprika
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 chili pepper, seeded and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 scallions (white and green parts), chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
3/4 cup Parmesan and Romano cheese blend, grated [optional topping]
2 tablespoons red pepper, crushed [optional topping]
Cook bacon (whole slices) in frying pan and save grease. Set bacon aside to let cool. Bring 3.5 cups chicken broth and 2 tablespoons bacon grease (or butter) to boil in large pot with bay leaves. Stir in 2 cups rice, cover, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, chop bacon into small bits. Lightly brown sausage and puréed chicken liver frying pan (some pink should still be showing). Stir in bacon, beef base, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, onion, red bell pepper, chili pepper, celery, scallions, and parsely.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is brown and vegetables are slightly broken down (approximately 10 minutes). Add meat and vegetables to cooked rice. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth, 2 tablespoons bacon grease (or butter), 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Add grated Parmesan/Romano and crushed red pepper to taste. Serve hot.