Dirty rice (sometimes called “Louisiana dirty rice” or “cajun rice”) is a popular Louisiana rice dish. Port Arthur (“Cajun Capital of Texas”) has several places that serve “dirty rice,” and “cajun rice” was served in the 1960s in Houston’s new Astrodome.
Dirty rice consists of cooked rice with chicken liver or giblets (giving it the “dirty” name), chopped onions, chopped peppers, chopped celery, and other ingredients. The name “dirty rice” appears in print by the 1930s.
In Japanese prison camps during World War II, “dirty rice” meant some insect in the rice; in the South, rice weevils get into the rice. These insects are not part of the “dirty rice” recipe, but give the name a slangy edge.
Wikipedia: Dirty rice
Dirty rice is a traditional Cajun dish made from white rice cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, which give it a dark (“dirty”) color. The cooked livers tend to be dry, but carry a very mild flavor. Similar to a pilaf, it also includes green bell pepper, celery and onion (the “holy trinity”). Parsley and/or chopped green onions are common garnishes. Dirty rice is most common in the Cajun regions of southern Louisiana and Mississippi; however, it can also be found in other areas of the American south.
Zatarain’s offers dirty rice as one of its boxed dinners. This rice does not have pieces of chicken liver in it and uses soy sauce to achieve the desired color. Zataran’s suggests a blend of ground beef, sausage, and finely chopped chicken giblets for a more robust flavor.
Bojangles’ Cajun Fried Chicken restuarants serve dirty rice as a side dish. The rice has sausage in it, which is also in thier gravy.
For many years, dirty rice has been an offering on the menu of the New Orleans-themed Popeye’s Fried Chicken restaurants; however, recent years have seen the chain change the name of the dish to “Cajun rice,” desiring perhaps to avoid connotations of uncleanliness on the product’s part.
About.com: Southern Food
From Diana Rattray
A Cajun-style dirty rice recipe.
3/4 pound chicken gizzards
3 1/2 cups hot chicken broth or beef broth
1 to 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 pound ground lean pork
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions with tops
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or a few dashes Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/2 pound chicken livers, finely diced
(Dictionary of American Regional English)
dirty rice n sLA [From its brown color]
A rice dish similar to jambalaya; see quots.
1965-70 DARE (Qu. H45,
) Infs. LA16, 31, 40, Dirty rice.
1967 LeCompte Word Atlas 211 seLA, A creole dish made of rice and some other important ingredients such as shrimp, oysters, or sausage: dirty rice…The response “dirty rice,” though sometimes used for this concept, more often refers to the Creole rice dressing.
1972 Hewitt NYT Heritage Cookbook 249, One of the most interesting dishes in Louisiana cuisine bears the abrupt name of Dirty Rice. This is really jambalaya made with chicken gizzards and livers and, when well made, it is delicious.
1978 New Yorkers 17 Apr 114 seLA, The dirty rice—a sort of rice dressing made with chicken liver and chicken gizzard and onion and bell pepper and celery and garlic and spices and oil—was staggering.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
dirty rice n. U.S. a Cajun dish of rice mixed with ground or chopped meat (traditionally chicken livers and gizzards) and seasonings.
1949 G. S. Perry Families Amer. viii. 132 It is sometimes spoken of, with loving familiarity, as ‘dirty rice’ or, again, referring to its giblet content, as une affaire des gizzards.
24 April 1936, Bunkie (LA) Record, “Bunkie Firemen Enjoy Barbecue,” pg. 1, col. 7:
Barbecue lamb and pork, potato salad and “dirty” rice composed the menu. It was delicious.
8 September 1936, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Viewing the News” by Wm. McG. Keefe, pg. 15, col. 2:
Ask Bruce Hayes if you don’t think “dirty rice” is a mighty fine dish. Or, best, eat some of it yourself and then you won’t have to take anybody’s word.
“Dirty rice” is this: Boiled rice (boiled properly); then a gravy made from the gravy you get from a broiled or baked chicken, with lots mroe onions, a bit of green pepper and chopped up chicken liver with a little flour and water added until you have a rich, thick gravy. Put the rice in the pan with that gravy and stir it all up until you can’t see any more white rice. There you have “dirty rice”—and you’ll keep on having it.
5 December 1947, Bunkie (LA) Record, “Sez Eye” by Phil, pg. 1, col. 1:
OUR GOOD FRIEND, Rev. Clements, pastor of the First Baptist Church, thought he had discovered a new dish on a recent visit to a French settlement in South Louisiana—rice with liver in it. Boy, that has been one of our favorite epicurean treats ever since we came to this state twenty-five—or more—years ago, and around these parts we affectionately call it “dirty rice.”
4 April 1948, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Viewing the News” by Wm. McG. Keefe, pg. 25, col. 1:
Got back from the Evangeline League circuit well enough, after a week of courtbouillon, Cajun rice, crawfish bisque, etc., ...
Mary Land’s Louisiana Cookery
New York, NY: Bonanza Books
CAJUN DIRTY RICE
Cook one cup of rice for fifteen minutes in fowl stock. Add to it cooked, chopped fowl liver or a generous slice of chopped, cooked calf liver. Add four sliced hard-boiled eggs. (Serves four.)
Pg. 346 (Appendix):
Dirty rice A Cajun dish of rice cooked with bits of liver.
Rice and Creole Cook Book:
A Collection of Precious Recipes From South Louisiana
edited by Wanda Cain Lafleur and Marie Ann Bandy
Daily Signal, Crowley, LA
DIRTY RICE A LA GOUDEAU (By M. P. Goudeau, who won a prize in the 1954 contest—ed.)
17 June 1959, Kerrville (TX) Times, pg. 1, col. 1:
“Damn Yankee Coffee, Dirty Rice 5 Miles Ahead.”
That means you can get coffee which isn’t so strong it puts you in a state of shock. Dirty rice is a mixture of ground liver, sausage, onions, peppers, garlic—and rice, of course—which is so tasty you’ll not believe it.
4 April 1963, Ruston (LA) Daily leader, pg. 3, col. 1:
The luncheon menu will consist of sliced turkey, dirty rice, broccoli casserole, relish tray, sherbert and cookies, iced tea and coffee.
8 September 1963, Winona (MN) Daily News, magazine, pg. 4, col. 2:
Louisiana Dirty Rice
This famous Louisiana dish is good served “as is” for a luncheon dish, or it makes a wonderful stuffing for wild duck or other poultry.
1/2 pound chicken livers, 1/4 pound chicken giblets chopped, 1 cup raw rice, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms fried in a little butter, 2 heaping tablespoons shortening (butter or fresh bacon grease), 1 1/2 cups chicken broth.
Fry raw rice in shortening until brown. Remove rice and brown livers, then cut up giblets, onions and celery and brown. Add rice and broth. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until rice is done. Add mushrooms and mix well.
5 November 1964, Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), pg. C11, cols. 1-2:
In heavy skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter or margarine. Add 5 whole slices bacon, chopped fine, and 1 cup uncooked rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is fried golden brown.
2/3 large, or 1 medium, bell pepper, chopped
1/2 pound lean ground beef, or chopped leftover roast
1 medium onion, chopped fine
Sit until onion is clear and meat browned. Pour in 2-quart casserole and add:
1 can beef consomme
1 can water
1 egg, beaten
Cover casserole and bake in 300 F. oven until rice is cooked, and all liquid has beeen absorbed.
NOTE: If you double the recipe, it can be cooked from beginning to end in a large electric skillet—fewer pots, less mess, and shorter cooking time!
2 May 1966, Ada (OK) Evening News, “Houston’s Mighty Astrodome Is The ‘Eatingest’ Stadium” by Poppy Cannon, pg. 9, col. 6:
This is the great dish of the Acadian farmers who came from Nova Scotia to Louisiana, as told by Longfellow in his tale of Evangeline. In Texas it is sometimes known—lovingly—as “Dirty Rice.” In olden times, it was one of those dishes that required half a day’s cooking. Chicken gizzards and other giblets went into it.
Times have changed. Now the new-style young Texas cooks in Pucci shirts or Courreges boots can stir up a kettle of Cajun rice “easier than ropin’ a steer,” by using instant rice and canned giblet gravy.
Combine 1 can giblet gravy, 1 can condensed tomato soup, 1 soup can water, 3 cups instant rice, 2 tablespoons instant minced onion, 3/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil on top of the stove. Add 1/2 cup each diced cooked ham or chicken and sliced hot Spanish or Italian sausages. Place in a buttered casserole and set in a moderately hot oven (375 degrees F) about 15 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.
19 June 1966, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 48, cols. 2-3:
1/2 pound package frozen chicken livers or giblets from 3 fryers
1 cup white onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 stick margarine
1 cup rice, not precooked
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon in monosodium glutamate
2 teaspoons dry parsley flakes
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 chicken bouillon cubes
If chicken giblets are used, cook in salted water until tender. Reserve broth, cool and chop giblets fine. If only chicken livers are used, saute in margarine until tender, chop fine. Saute onion, green pepper and celery in 1 stick margarine until vegetables are tender. Do not brown. Cook in chicken broth seasoned with one teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Cook rice about twelve minutes, do not cook until completely done. Combine rice, cooked vegetables, chopped chicken livers (or giblets). Add more salt and pepper to taste, add Worcestershire sauce. Place in greased baking dish and sprinkle with any parsley flakes. Bake 1 hour in 325 degree oven or until crispy on top.
Delicious accompaniment for barbecued chicken, fried chicken or turkey. Time consuming recipe, may be made the day before and baked last hour before serving.
Mrs. E. S. Griffith,
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 pounds lean ground pork
1 pound chicken giblets, ground
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced shallots (green onions)
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/4 cup garlic, preferably ground
1/4 cup parsley, cut up fine
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups celery, cut up fine
3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound margarine or butter
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
salt to taste
With about 2 cups water, mix all meats together in heavy pot on a medium-hot burner. Add all the above ingredients, except mushroom soup at the start of cooking. Cook on medium heat about 4 hours. Stir often. Then add cream of mushroom soup and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Now boil 2 pounds long grain rice. Let rice cook completely. After rice has cooked, mix thoroughly with the meat mixture. Allow to steam or cook on low heat approximately 20-30 minutes. Serves 10.
Mrs. O. W. Work
14 November 1968, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Dirty Rice Is Really Tasty Dish,” section E, pg. 13:
Ever hear of “Dirty Rice?” It’s a tasty dish in spite of its name.
1 cup rice, uncooked
1 onion, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped fine
1/2 pound chicken livers, chopped fine
6 sprigs parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon MSG
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Cook the rice in water with salt and MSG until done. Saute the finely chopped chicken livers in a little bacon fat or chicken fat and add to the rice. Saute the onion, celery and pepper until soft and tender. Add to the rice. Mix thoroughly, add parsley and Worcestershire. Taste and correct seasoning. The rice will have the chopped livers and vegetables all through it.
25 March 1970, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 44, cols. 2-3:
...hickory-fire roasted pig with its special, savory accompaniments of steaming dirty rice (rice dressing, for those not familiar with South Louisiana jargon) and brown-sugar-candied Louisiana yams.
5 July 1970, Oakland (CA) Tribune, Tuesday Magazine, pg. 22, col. 2:
Louisiana Dirty Rice
2 cups uncooked rice
3 cups water
1 tsp. salt
Wash rice well. Cook over high flame until rice comes to a rolling boil. Reduce flames and steam until done. Set aside.
1/2 lb. chicken livers, well chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper
1 tsp. garlic seasoning
1/4 lb. margarine
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup green pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup green onion tops, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
Melt margarine in skillet over a low flame. Add chicken livers and simmer for about 5 mins., stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining ingredients, add water and mix well. Let simmer for 25 minutes, then lightly stir in rice. Serve hot. Goes well with baked beans and barbecue chicken. Serves 8.
Holiday Inn International Cook Book
by Ruth Malone
Copyright 1972, revised seventh edition
Fort Smith, Ark.—South
Lake Charles, La.
CAJUN DIRTY RICE
24 August 1972, Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, MS), pg. 13, col. 6:
4 cups long grain rice
1 lb. ground meat
1 lb. pork or chicken liver, ground
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery chopped
1/2 cup green pepper chopped
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup green onion tails chopped
Salt, black and red pepper to taste.
Brown ground meat and liver or chicken, onions, celery, green pepper, adding salt and peppers in meat according to taste, and cook until done. Add rice, parsley, green onion tails. Then add enough water to cover rice 2 inches on top. Stir occasionally until the water cooks out. Serves 6 to 8.
4 February 1973, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “‘Dirty Rice’ Favored in Texas Cajun Town” by Frank X. Tolbert, section A, pg. 37:
“You would not believe if I ‘tol you. When I first come to Por’ Ar-tour 6 or 5 months ago we sell about 300 pounds of Dirty Rice every week. Now dat figure is something like 1,200 pounds of Dirty Rice.”
12 December 1974, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section E, pg. 1:
“Cooking for Crowds” by caterer Merry White (Basic Books, $7.95) features many ethnic and regional casserole dishes, such as Louisiana’s dirty rice, a garlicky mixture of ground beef, ground liver, rice and seasonings.
23 March 1983, New York (NY) Times, “Q&A,” pg. C8:
Q. I have seen numerous references lately to a Louisiana dish called dirty rice. Can you tell me what it is and why it is so named?
A. Dirty rice is an excellent, uncommonly tasty dish of Cajun and/or Creole origin. It is called “dirty” because it is a bit dark once it is cooked. The ingredients are chicken livers and gizzards that are chopped but not so finely chopped as to lose their identity.
Some people add ground pork and cubed eggplant. You cook these in oil along with green pepper, onion and celery, then the rice and chicken broth. Toss in some chopped green onions (in Louisiana these are referred to as shallots) and cook until tender.