A south Louisiana holiday staple side and year-round main dish, Cajun rice dressing soul-satisfies, y'all. Seasoned ground beef, set aside to flavor-marry while the trinity veggies cook down into soft, caramelized deliciousness. Then added into the pan to brown and release its sass-studded beefy flavors right into the veggies before the final sizzling garlic finish. Drained and tossed with fresh, hot rice, and presented right in the skillet for a scrumptious, down-home taste and texture experience that's actually better to make ahead for your next main meal event. Yep and yay...
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No, This Ain't Dirty Rice, Y'all...
Growing up in south Louisiana means that you see a whole lot of dirty rice going down on tables around the holidays. Many people love it and say that it's their favorite Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's dish.
If you're not familiar, Louisiana dirty rice is a dish very similar to Cajun rice dressing. It's made with all of the same basic components, except that a true dirty rice always, always includes the mix of organ meats known as chicken giblets.
Yes, people who love dirty rice are pretty serious about it. And, they usually use old family recipes that were handed down to them through their ancestors who oftentimes raised their own chickens and made dirty rice to use up as much of the animal as possible. Sometimes this was because that what these beloved Cajun people raised was all that they could afford to eat. And other times it was to just stay as close as possible to the Cajun way of not wasting what the good Lord gave you.
Either way, the dish has stood the test of time and is just as modern as it is antiquated. Indeed.
Cause I Like to Do it My Way...
Well, y'all, I appreciate dirty rice for what it is, but I just can't eat organ meat. Nope. I have no moral issues with eating it whatsoever, and actually am glad that other people do consume it. Honestly, I don't like the taste or texture of organ meat and have given up completely on ever believing that I will acquire the taste after literally years of trying. Sigh.
So, I make Cajun rice dressing, the first cousin of dirty rice. And I make my rice dressing a little different from most people, as I use only beef in this recipe. Most rice dressing recipes call for a mix of beef and pork. But, eating pork products gives me almost immediate health problems, so I use beef and overcompensate for the lack of mixed-meat flavor by seasoning the beef super-liberally. And, I cook the trinity veggies aaaallll the way down, so that each bite is saturated with their collective flavors. Oh, and I also use roasted red bell peppers too, because they add just a bit of sweetness to the dish that complements the overall savory components beautifully.
This Cajun rice dressing tastes great right out of the skillet, y'all. But, you can also amp up the flavors by seasoning the meat and letting it refrigerate all night. And, you can also cook the dressing without the rice, cool, cover and chill it overnight for even more flavor. Then, bring it back up to room temperature, heat and add the rice. It's a very versatile, very forgiving dish that you can use as a side for numerous guests or as a budget gluten free family meal that goes a long, long way around the table.
How to Make Cajun Rice Dressing
Start the Cajun rice dressing by making a batch of rice if you're going to serve it immediately. Otherwise, proceed to step two:
Now, pour the seasonings over the ground beef:
And use your hands to saturate as much of the meat as you can with the spices and sauces:
Now, place the butter or oil and chopped Cajun trinity veggies into the skillet:
And brown the veggies for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they get really soft and are starting to brown on the edges:
Then, add the seasoned ground beef to the pan:
Once the ground beef is fully cooked through, then add the garlic:
And the freshly chopped parsley and celery leaves, and cook down for about five minutes:
Then, drain the mixture well in a colander, letting it sit for a while to drain completely before you pour it back into the pot:
Now, break up the rice:
And add it to the rest of the Cajun rice dressing ingredients in batches, stirring gently until well incorporated:
And that's it y'all!
The first thing that you notice about this Cajun rice dressing is the explosion of flavors from the seasoned meat and veggies. Then, you relish in the hearty, stick-to-your-ribsness of the dish with each super filling, rice-permeated bite.
Finally, you take it all in as a whole, delighting in the little pops of surprise flavors that arise every now and again throughout your meal. This is just another recipe that testifies to the south Louisiana way of transforming humble ingredients into super-flavorful, unforgettable dishes, y'all, and I'm super happy to be bringing this one to you, too.
I think you'll find it to be a welcome addition to your holiday table. And just perfect for those days when you want a one-pot meal that makes everyone full and happy. Yep.
Share this Cajun rice dressing with those who stay to help you do the dishes after the feast is over. Much food love, and see y'all on the yum side...
- 1 batch freshly cooked rice
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef
- 2 teaspoons gluten free Worcesterhire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Crystal hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried paprika
- 3 to 5 tablespoons butter or oil, divided
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
- ½ cup roasted red peppers, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh celery leaves, chopped
- salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and hot sauce to taste
- If you haven't already done so, make a batch of rice.
- Place the ground beef in a large glass mixing bowl.
- Top the beef with the gluten free Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic powder, paprika and parsley flakes.
- Use a large spoon or your hands to incorporate all of the seasonings and sauces into the ground beef.
- Place a well-greased 10-inch deep or 12-inch shallow cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Add 3 tablespoons of the butter or oil and the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery and roasted red pepper pieces into the skillet.
- Cook the vegetables until almost browned, stirring often. Add more butter or oil to the skillet if the veggies begin to burn or brown unevenly.
- When the veggies are almost browned, add the seasoned ground beef to the skillet.
- Stir until well-combined, and then cook until the veggies and ground beef are completely browned throughout.
- Stir the minced garlic, and chopped parsley and celery leaves into the mixture.
- Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Drain the mixture over a colander set atop a large glass mixing bowl. Flip the mixture over a couple of times in the colander carefully to ensure that all of the grease is released from the mixture, then let it sit over the bowl for another minute to ensure that all of the remaining grease drains from the meat.
- Wipe out any excess grease in the skillet carefully using paper towels, if necessary.
- Pour the browned meat and veggie mixture to the pot.
- Stir in the cooked rice in batches, incorporating the rice into the beef and vegetable mixure completely before adding more rice. (I used about 80 percent of the rice that I made, you may want to add more or less rice depending upon personal preference).
- Add salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste before serving, see notes.