The Joys of Dirty Rice

24 Sep

Farm Table member and guest blogger Christen Miller, who shared her Maque Choux recipe in her last post, is back to teach us how to make another regional dish, “Dirty Rice,” substituting eggplant for the more traditional pork liver. Christen’s food mentor, Gussie Thibodaux (originally from Louisiana), taught her how to make this dish when they were neighbors living in Texas :

One of the things I love about regional cooking is sometimes the names are…colorful. 

A favorite of mine for years is that classic Cajun dish, Dirty Rice, also known as Rice Dressing, but that’s not nearly as fun to say or serve!

I learned my version in Gussie’s kitchen in Galveston, and I’ll give it to you just as she taught me, and add my changes as notes…either way it’s delicious and you’ll love it.

Traditionally dirty rice is made with chicken or pork liver. As this cooks, it breaks down, giving it the “dirty” look it’s named after. Gussie told me she couldn’t stand liver in any way, shape or form, so she substituted a surprising ingredient — eggplant. As eggplant always has and always will be one of my favorite foods, I was thrilled. 

The trick is to brown everything well as it adds a richness to the dish, and of course use the “holy trinity” of onion, celery, and bell pepper!

Gussie Thibodaux’s Dirty Rice


  • 1 lb lean ground beef (I use veggie crumbles)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped (I use red also if I have it)
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 whole or ½ large eggplant, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (I use long grain brown rice or brown basmati)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I use vegetable broth), plus a little extra


  • Cook the rice with the broth according to package directions. This can be done while you are cooking everything else.
  • In a non-stick or cast iron skillet brown the meat or veggie crumbles well, and chop with the spatula while cooking to make sure it’s finely broken. Once it’s cooked, remove to a bowl and remove any excess fat from the pan.
  • Add some good oil if needed (coconut or Extra Virgin Olive Oil), and add all the vegetables at once along with the seasoning. Cook and stir until they are all nicely browned, then remove from the pan and add to the meat/veggie crumbles you have set to the side. You can leave any left over oil in the pan at this point.
  • Now you make a roux! Heat the 2 Tbs of oil in the pan on medium heat, then add the flour. Cook and stir continuously until the flour is a lovely brown color – almost as dark as a copper penny. Do not rush this, and don’t use too high heat or it will burn before it browns!
  • Add the meat/veggie crumble and browned vegetables back in to the pan, and stir to coat with the roux. Gently stir in the cooked rice, and if it seems a bit dry, add some broth a little at a time.
  • Serve as a side, but it also makes a great main dish with a salad and some bread.


One Response to “The Joys of Dirty Rice”


  1. Baba Ghanoush « The Farm Table RVA - October 14, 2012

    […] Blogger and Farm Table member, Christen Miller, is back to follow up her Dirty Rice recipe with this healthy, simple, and tasty dish that you can whip up easily and enjoy […]

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