Monday, April 21, 2014

Dirty Rice (Gluten Free)

Dirty Rice, from Louisiana, is described in one of Hewitt's rare notes as a jambalaya. Well, I don't know about that- My ever present source, Wikipedia, says that there are two kinds of jambalaya, creole jambalaya and Cajun jambalaya. Both of these dishes contain what the Wikipedia writer refers to as "the Trinity," onions, celery and green or red peppers. Dirty Rice ain't got no red peppers or celery, so what do you say about that?
I say, cooking was so boring in Hewitt's time that the New Orleans matrons who gave her their recipes probably thought that red peppers and celery were "common" or made the dish "too rich." To compare this to a jambalaya is like Calvin Trillin, one of the more hilarious writers in print, talking about being invited  to see a trio of white dentists playing what was supposedly Dixieland Jazz. (If you want to track down this reference yourself, it was either in American Fried or Alice, Let's Eat.)
My son requested a ham for Easter dinner. Bob ordered one from Edwards of Surrey, Va. These are terrific, authentic smoked hams, and are even semi local. I prefer to truck up to Eastern Market to Union Meat. Bob prefers to order things and be done with it.
I decided dirty rice would go well with the ham and would probably be okay with the less adventurous eaters around the table. I had to leave one of the ingredients out from the git go. The recipe calls for a quarter of a pound of chicken gizzards. These are not particularly easy to find. One Christmas, when I was making a concerted effort to track down gizzards for pate, I finally ran them to earth at Safeway after inquiring at several specialty shops. If I had gone to the Eastern Market, I probably could have found them there, but I left shopping until Friday afternoon, and Safeway was without them.
I made the rice after we got home from Easter Sunday services. The directions didn't exactly work, especially not in the time allowed by the two family schedule of my son and his wife and her mother. We are lucky that all the families live within an hour of each other, but it does mean that meals have to be served on time because half the guests have to go on to some other event.
The recipe says the cook is to simmer the rice for exactly 15 minutes. Then, one saut├ęs everything else in a saucepan and adds it all to the partially cooked rice and broth. The resulting semi-soup is then baked at 350 degrees for 15 more minutes. If you follow these directions, what  you have is still soupy rice with chicken livers, etc.  floating in it.. Bob plunked the baking dish on top of a burner and jacked up the flame until most of the liquid was absorbed. The result was delicious, but somewhat ...gummy.
If I was truly an inspiring cook, I would make this again, experimenting until I achieved the desired effect before I wrote about it. But, I never promised you readers a rose garden, only a strange tour through mid-twentieth century American cooking. I leave the experimenting to you.
Personally, if I were to make this again, I would cook the rice longer to begin with, and definitely bake it longer, at least half an hour.
How does this taste? Good, but somewhat bland for our twenty-first century taste buds. Try to use bacon fat. I didn't have any and so used cooking oil. Bacon fat would add richness.

Dirty Rice

2 cups uncooked rice
6 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1/4 pound chicken livers
1/4 pound chicken gizzards
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup finely chopped scallions, including the green part
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the rice in a one-and-one-half-quart saucepan and add four cups broth and the bay leaf. Cover, bring to boil and simmer exactly fifteen minutes.
3. Cook the onions in the blackened drippings until almost brown Chop the livers and gizzards fine and add them. Cook, stirring, until brown. Add the garlic, onions and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and add the remaining broth. Combine the partially cooked rice and the chicken giblet mixture and pour all into a baking pan. Dot with butter and bake fifteen minutes. (See notes)
Makes six servings.

1.


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