Classic southern comfort food at its finest, Dirty Rice is a delicious blend of cajun spices, vegetables, rice, sausage, and yes, chicken livers. Hailing from Louisiana, this one-pot wonder can be served either as a side or main dish.
There are lots of variations of this recipe; some folks add seafood and other vegetables, but this simple recipe is a true cajun classic that will satisfy any appetite. Generously seasoned and a snap to prepare, you can have it on the table in less than 30 minutes.
What is dirty rice?
If you have never had it, you may be wondering about the name. The name comes from the “dirty” color of the white rice after combining it with the meats, vegetables, and spices. But while it is an odd name, this rich and hearty dish is full of spices and flavors that make cajun dishes so satisfying and delicious.
What to serve with this recipe?
Because it’s full of meat and vegetables, I generally serve this as a main dish along with a simple side, such as my Southern Cucumber and Tomato Salad, Sauteed Spinach, or Mary’s Healthy Collard Greens. I sometimes like to add either my Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Cornbread Muffins, a piece of Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Cornbread, or a piece of french bread.
Yes, dirty rice contains chicken livers! I know it’s a shock for those of you like my husband that would never under any circumstances knowingly eat chicken livers. It’s part of what makes this dish so flavorful, and it is also what helps give the rice its “dirty” color.
You can leave them out if you must, but I hope you will at least give it a try. The livers are chopped very fine, and I guarantee unless you knew they are in there, you wouldn’t guess it in a million years.
Can this dish be made ahead?
Yes, this dish can be made up to several days ahead and stored in your refrigerator until you are ready to reheat and serve it.
Unfortunately, white rice doesn’t freeze well, so it’s best not to freeze it. You can, however, make up the meat mixture ahead and freeze that. Then, when you are ready to serve it, allow it to defrost, reheat, and combine it with hot cooked rice.
You might think its blasphemy to use Italian sausage in a Cajun dish, but the spices are wonderful together. Bulk pork sausage, andouille, chorizo, or kielbasa can also be substituted, along with plain ground beef or a combination of beef and pork.
Mardi Gras recipes:
With Mardi Gras just around the corner, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that Dirty Rice is a traditional Mardi Gras dish. Other traditional Mardi Gras recipes on my blog include:
- Easy Mardi Gras Hot Muffaletta Dip
- Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
- Hurricane Cocktails
- Creamy Shrimp Creole
- Mardi Gras Snack Mix
- Old Fashioned Pecan Pralines
Need more ideas, check out my roundup post: Ten + Classic Mardi Gras Recipes and Menu Ideas.
To make this recipe, you will need Italian sausage, chicken livers, onion, celery, green pepper, parsley, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, cajun or creole seasoning, bacon grease or olive oil and three cups of hot cooked rice. I like Success Boil in Bag Basmati Rice.
How to make this recipe:
Add the bacon grease or olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the onion, celery, and green pepper. Cook and stir for about five minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Add the garlic, sausage, and chicken livers. Break up the sausage and add the cumin, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Cook until the sausage is browned and no pink remains.
Add the hot rice and parsley to the meat mixture and combine.
Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh parsley and serve hot.
Leftover dirty rice keeps well covered in the refrigerator for up to four days. Because white rice turns mushy if frozen, it does not freeze well.
It’s easier to finely chop the chicken livers if you first stick them in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
Bulk pork sausage, andouille, chorizo, or kielbasa can also be substituted for the Italian sausage, along with plain ground beef or a combination of beef and pork.
Feel free to use either Cajun or Creole Seasoning in this recipe. I like Zatarain’s.
You can leave the chicken livers out if you must, but I hope you will at least give them a try. The livers are chopped very fine, and I guarantee unless you knew they are in there, you wouldn’t guess it in a million years.
I like and use Success Boil in Bag Basmati Rice. If you use this, you will need two bags of uncooked rice and then just follow the directions on the package. If you prefer, you can also make regular white rice for this recipe. You will need three cups of hot cooked rice.
★ If you make this dish, please leave a comment and give this recipe a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thank you so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones!
Easy Classic Cajun Dirty Rice with Sausage
- 1 Tbsp bacon grease can substitute olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound Italian sausage ground, not the links
- 1/2 pound chicken livers finely chopped or ground
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp Cajun or Creole Seasoning
- 3 cups hot cooked rice
- 1/4 cup of chopped parsley plus additional for garnish
- Add the bacon grease or olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the onion, celery, and green pepper. Cook and stir for about five minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the garlic, sausage and chicken livers. Break up the sausage and add the cumin, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Cook until the sausage is browned, and no pink remains.
- Add the hot rice and parsley to the meat mixture and combine. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh parsley and serve hot.