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Recipe File

Dirty Rice

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In the Southern states of the U.S., there is a popular (and tasty) dish that makes use of some ingredients that may have fallen out of favor in other parts of the country. Like most recipes from the south, everyone's got a different way to prepare dirty rice, including a few recipes that don't even call for chicken livers and gizzards. Here's a simply, yet full-flavored, version of dirty rice that even those in the South will approve of.

Dirty rice is named "dirty" because of the inclusion of chicken livers which gives the rice a fine-grained brown coating - making it look like it's dirty. In my book, if the dirty rice doesn't have livers and gizzards, then it isn't dirty rice. Be sure to purchase your livers and gizzards the same day you prepare this dish for the best flavor. Livers and gizzards tend to go bad much faster than the rest of the chicken, so it's best to get them as fresh as possible. A quick survey of my local supermarkets revealed that about half of them carried livers fresh in plastic containers in the refrigerated meats section, but none carried fresh gizzards. All the supermarkets sold gizzards and hearts together in a plastic wrapped tray in the frozen meats area. These work just fine for this recipe.

Start by laying out your ingredients (clockwise from top left): 4 cups chicken stock, one medium onion, one celery rib, one red bell pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, 1/2 pound chicken livers (about 5 livers), 1/4 pound chicken gizzards (about 6 gizzards), 3 cloves garlic, and 2 cups rice.

Finely chop of the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Mince the garlic. Chop up the livers and gizzards into small pieces (to about 1/4-in. or 5-mm cubes).

Heat a medium saucepan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, butter, or bacon drippings until the fat just shimmers. Brown the gizzards over medium heat for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally to evenly brown. Add the chopped liver (the ingredient, not your sous chef), to the mixture and cook until the liver is just browned. Some moisture will probably seep out of the livers as they cook, so they won't brown up as nice as the gizzards, but that's okay. As soon as the livers aren't red or pink anymore, move to the next step.

Add the onions to the liver and gizzards. Cook, while stirring, for another couple minutes until the onion just starts to turn translucent and tender.

Mix in the bell peppers and garlic and cook for another three minutes while stirring occasionally.

Pour the rice into the pan and stir to mix.

Once the rice has been completely mixed, pour in the chicken stock and season with the ground black pepper and cayenne pepper. Add salt to your taste. If this is a dish to accompany others, you may want to use only a couple pinches of salt, but if this is your main entree, then go ahead and use a teaspoon of table salt (assuming your stock was unsalted). Bring the stock to a boil. (If your pan doesn't distribute heat effectively, hot spots may cause the rice and food at the bottom to cook onto your pan. If you suspect that may happen, then stir while brining the stock to a boil.)

Once the mixture is boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low - just enough to keep the mixture simmering. I check this by listening for the steady sound of small bubbles popping (or use a glass lid). Allow the rice to simmer for twenty minutes, then remove from the heat. Fluff the rice and cover again for ten more minutes. Serve.

Dirty Rice (serves 8)
1 tablespoon (15 mL) vegetable oilheatbrowncook until not pinkcook until tendercook 3 min.mixaddseason to tastebring to boilsimmer 20 min.fluff and rest 10 min.
1/4 pound (110 g) chicken gizzards (about 6)chop
1/2 pound (225 g) chicken livers (about 5)chop
1 medium (110 g) onionfinely chop
1 celery rib (25 g)finely chop
1 medium red bell pepper (120 g)chop fine
3 cloves (10 g) garlicmince
2 cups (390 g) rice
4 cups (945 mL) chicken stock
1/2 tsp. (1.0 g) ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. (0.45 g) cayenne pepper

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Written by Michael Chu
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27 comments on Dirty Rice:(Post a comment)

On December 09, 2005 at 11:58 AM, MK (guest) said...
Subject: other meats are good, too
This is similar to my dirty rice recipe. I don't care for organ meats and find that almost any other meat makes a tasty dish - chopped steak, hamburger, chicken thighs, even vegetarian meat substitutes are good.

On December 09, 2005 at 04:14 PM, kskerr said...
I also do not find liver to be edible, good idea to use meat in its place, perhaps I'll try that sometime.

On December 09, 2005 at 05:55 PM, FranksPlace2 said...
Subject: Great Dirty Rice!
:) This is a great recipe! Just like my mom used to fix for me. I would jazz up the spices a bit, using red, white and black pepper but not too much pepper in total. Also I would add sage. It should be spicey but not hot.

There is a kind of sausage here in Lousiana called boudin which has rice and pork (including the pork liver) in a casing. It is similar to dirty rice.
Also jambalaya is another form of "dirty rice" but with ham and sausage.


On December 18, 2005 at 08:57 PM, Antonio (guest) said...
Subject: fluff
Sorry, but what does "fluff" mean? I love chiken liver.

On December 18, 2005 at 09:04 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: fluff
Antonio wrote:
Sorry, but what does "fluff" mean? I love chiken liver.

Use a fork to pry up the rice and kind of flip the pieces over and around to loosen up the grains of rice after cooking. When coking rice, the rice just sits there and as it expands and takes on moisture, the individual rice grains cram together. By fluffing it, we loosen the grains and introduce some hot air into the rice so it doesn't become one large clump.

On December 21, 2005 at 05:38 PM, ha3rvey (guest) said...
Subject: when you can't find gizzards or livers...
Once, in an emergency, I used fried chicken gizzards from a local fried chicken chain. I didn't even scrape off the breading. I cut back on the seasonings in the resulting dish a bit, but the resulting dirty rice was pretty good.

On April 10, 2006 at 01:20 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Decided to make this the other day, made a few changes though, instead of the liver I used hot pork sausage, but let the gizzards in and changed out the salt for cajan seasoning and added some ground habanero. Turned out very well, and have lots of left overs.

On May 15, 2006 at 07:58 PM, Ragnvaeig (guest) said...
I assume the rice is uncooked when you add it.

On May 15, 2006 at 10:52 PM, Michael Chu said...
Ragnvaeig wrote:
I assume the rice is uncooked when you add it.

Yes, use uncooked rice.

On May 24, 2006 at 11:45 AM, trist (guest) said...
Subject: rice cooker
i'm horrible when it comes to cooking rice on the stovetop. can i use the rice cooker instead?

On August 20, 2006 at 09:56 PM, an anonymous reader said...
rice cooker won't work since the rice cooks with everything else. you could try to cook everything but the rice and then add it all with the rice to the rice cooker, but then again it could stain the rice cookers bowl, and the inside cover, and well i'm not daring enough to try it. If you were wanting to try that I would go buy a new cheap rice cooker first.

On October 01, 2006 at 09:50 PM, socal_chris said...
rice cooker won't work since the rice cooks with everything else. you could try to cook everything but the rice and then add it all with the rice to the rice cooker, but then again it could stain the rice cookers bowl, and the inside cover, and well i'm not daring enough to try it. If you were wanting to try that I would go buy a new cheap rice cooker first.

I cook in my rice cooker with ingredients and broths all the time. Always add raw meet and vegetables. It's my favorite tool in my kitchen.

This recipe sounds great. I'll be trying it out this week to make sure I have the details worked out before our Cajun Thanksgiving.

On June 04, 2007 at 07:06 PM, raecampus (guest) said...
Subject: Dirty Rice
This is an awsome recipe, I cut back on livers and gizzards a bit and added 8 oz whole hog sausage, yum.


On July 18, 2007 at 08:04 AM, Luke (guest) said...
Subject: Puree Liver
I haven't used this recipe, but it's close to mine. I'll use ground pork in addition to liver and gizzards. I can't recall if this recipe calls for cumin, but you should try that. Just a teaspoon or it will taste like chili! I puree the liver in a food processor, so there aren't chunks of it in the dish. I also use instant rice. When the vegetables are soft, stir in the liver, as it cooks quickly, and you don't want to overcook. Once liver is cooked, pour in the rice, stir, and cover till rice is done.

On July 26, 2007 at 02:04 PM, molly (guest) said...
Subject: Dirty rice

I have been looking for a dirty rice recipe and this really sounds great. I will make it this weekend. Your great directions and pictures will be very easy to follow.

The problem is that the google ads next to you recipe included a listing for "enema recipes." What an awful thing to put with food recipes.


On July 28, 2007 at 01:53 AM, ta (guest) said...
Subject: boil-in-bag rice
Can I use uncooked Success boil-in-bag rice?

On April 03, 2008 at 12:17 AM, Alex (guest) said...
Subject: Re: Dirty Rice
Sounds disgusting, but looks interesting. I'll have to try a similar recipe with regular meat instead.

PS: Molly, I think that the Google ads are put up automatically, and no one controls it.

On April 06, 2008 at 11:07 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I'm from Louisiana and as a child my aunt had a friend who was pure cajun. I remember she made dirty rice for my aunt and it was one of the best dishes i've ever had, but as a kid i did not get the recipe. I am 65 years old and have tried to fine her recipe. Made yours and it was exactly like hers. thank you so much.Reminded me of when i was young.

On April 07, 2008 at 08:09 PM, Magnum said...
I like dirty rice (with organs) especially spicy and with Jerk chicken. Wonderful!

On April 24, 2008 at 07:14 PM, Marcy (guest) said...
Nice recipe - not dissimilar from my own. I can't really stress enough to readers though, that if it doesn't contain chicken liver, it isn't actually dirty's more like a basic Jambalaya. That said, even persons who state they do not like liver, like dirty rice. It does NOT "taste like liver." The flavors meld and become something wondrous and altogether different than the individual ingredients would lead a person to believe. It is even better the following day, reheated.

Try adding some good andouille sausage (coarse ground pork, redolent with garlic and cracked pepper, then smoked) for a real treat.

On April 22, 2009 at 06:27 PM, Chuck (guest) said...
Subject: Dirty Rice
Yes, I would also like to stress that the liver and gizzard flavor is so married into the rest of the flavors in the dish that if you didn't know they were in there you wouldn't know they were in there. I DESPISE all types of animal liver, heart, variety meats, etc., but I know from two years as asst. kit. mgr. at a popular local cajun restaurant that authentic dirty rice is absolutely divine! I rapidly got to the point where I was living on red beans and rice, and could easily go back to it at any time! Just try the recipe, you'll be convinced.

On June 02, 2009 at 07:47 AM, charlie (guest) said...
Subject: liver
Liver is excellent! i'm glad to see more uses for liver.


On June 09, 2009 at 02:31 AM, rustan (guest) said...
Subject: Success
Hi Michael,

I'm from Philippines and we, filipinoes, love liver and gizzards. The moment i've seen your Dirty Rice recipe, I can't wait to try it! I'm not a professional cook and i didn't had a proper knowledge in terms of cooking so please bear with my version of your Dirty Rice. I've created a blog after I've created your Dirty Rice and posted it there. Kindly visit it at and good job on maintaining this wonderful site!

On August 01, 2009 at 07:14 PM, herc (guest) said...
Subject: dirty rice
great recipe, i doubled everything and added a pound of ground pork.
my children are in their teens and they enjoyed it for dinner, then they enjoyed it with overlight eggs for breakfast and they heated it up in microwave and ate it for snack. I spent roughly $10 on all ingredients and comparatively speaking it would have cost about $40 to get same quantity at popeyes chicken. I will make again tomorrow. :lol:

On February 21, 2010 at 07:12 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Alternative.
i have made a few variations to this dish one is with stewing beef and/or ground beef. I also added green&white onions finely chopped. This variation tastes great. Also you can sub the beef for veggie burgers that you cut up into smaller peaces for those who are vegetarians. Also you can use tofu. I used extra firm fried but add it to the mix after the rice is cooked otherwise the tofu will fall apart. Both variations turned our really good. Also i caramelized the white onion and garlic together.

How to caramelize garlic/onions.

1 Garlic head; unpeeled
1 tbsp Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut off top quarter inch of garlic head. Drizzle oil over head. Wrap head in tin foil. Bake until golden, about one hour.

Onions: Chop the onion into crescent shape and slow cook with oil and/or butter tell the onions are translucent and lightly brown.

On November 28, 2010 at 01:05 PM, ackebea (guest) said...
Subject: love it
I live in TX and I just love it

On October 30, 2012 at 12:07 AM, Chadwick (guest) said...
Subject: rice cooker
I cook the rice with chicken stock in my rice cooker, and then toss everything in the wok at the end.

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