This is one of my family’s favorite main dishes. It expands a single pound of ground meat to serve a hungry family of six. You can even use less than a pound of ground meat if you don’t have a full pound, and it still turns out just fine. The spices and seasonings make it seem like something really special. It’s easy on the cook too, most of the time is spent letting the rice cook. It doesn’t require a close eye so if you’re calling out spelling words or practicing the multiplication tables while you prepare dinner, there is no worry of anything burning while you’re distracted.
If bell peppers are affordable in your neck of the woods, you may chop half or a whole bell pepper and fry it along with the onion and celery. If you’re using frozen peppers then 1/2 to 1-cup will be plenty.
If you want to use brown rice then simply replace the white rice with brown and cook for 45 to 50 minutes instead of 20 to 30 minutes.
Some people add tomato to their dirty rice and some people don’t. I do because I like the flavor it adds to the dish. If you don’t have tomatoes or don’t want to use them, then simply leave them out. Your dirty rice will turn out just fine.
Cajun Style Dirty Rice
- 3/4 to 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1-1/2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomatoes OR 1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes and green chiles
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper OR red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 3 to 4 cups water (start with 3, add more if desired)
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon broth powder OR 2 bouillon cubes, any flavor OR 1/2-teaspoon salt
- Optional: 4 to 8 ounces hot dogs or smoked sausage
I find this is best made in a 12-inch skillet or deep chicken fryer or a 4-quart pot. The rice expands a lot and it needs somewhere to go.
Place the ground meat in the skillet. Fry and crumble it until it’s evenly browned. Drain and rinse the meat if desired. While the meat cooks chop the onion and celery. Add the fresh vegetables to the pot. Fry the veggies and meat together for about 5 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients. When the mixture simmers place a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to low. Allow the rice to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. If a lot of steam is escaping then you may need to add a little more water to keep the mixture juicy (but not soupy). When the rice is tender it’s time to eat. Makes 6 hearty servings.
Serve with a green salad or boiled greens and canned peaches. Muffins may be added if you need a hot bread. I usually make lemonade to go with it because it tastes so good with the spicy rice.
I prefer this dish made with both hot dogs and ground meat, but of course economy doesn’t always allow for me to indulge my druthers. If I have frozen baby shrimp in the freezer then I add 1-cup along with the water and rice. When I add both shrimp and hot dogs to the ground meat, I use 2-cups of rice instead of 1-1/2-cups and then increase the water to 4 to 5 cups. This increases the number of portions to about 8.
Over the years this has become one of my family’s favorite dishes. I’ve tried different variations now and then and this version is by far our favorite.
If you have ground turkey that the family isn’t especially fond of, and you’re looking for a good way to use it up, this recipe is perfect. It’s highly flavored enough to disguise the taste of ground turkey if necessary. It’s taken about 10 years, but I have finally convinced my guys that ground turkey is yummy. It didn’t happen overnight though, it took lots of work and patience on my part. We still don’t much care for meatloaf made with ground turkey, but skillet dishes with ground turkey are excellent!