Rice Dressing, or Dirty Rice as it is commonly referred to, is not meant to be used as a stuffing, but rather a dressing to the meal (side dish). Equally good made meatless. For a richer flavor, substitute 2 cups of beef or vegetable stock for 2 cups of the cooking water when preparing the rice.
1 pound lean ground beef (no more than 10% fat)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped (red or green or both)
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/4 cup green onion tops, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper or salt-free Cajun seasoning blend, such as Bayou Blend
2 cups long grained white rice
4 cups water or 2 cups water and 2 cups stock
Heat a large skillet or pan (that has a tight fitting lid) over medium heat. Add ground beef and brown, breaking up the chunks of meat until cooked through. Drain meat and set aside, discarding liquid. Return pan to heat and add olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the Trinity (onion, bell pepper, and celery) and sauté until tender. Add the garlic, half of the parsley and onion tops and sauté for a minute or two, taking care not to burn the garlic. Return the meat to the pan, add the sea salt, thyme, pepper, rice, and water; stir to blend. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, the lower the heat to simmer, cover the pan with lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not remove the lid while simmering! After 20 minutes, remove the lid and test the rice; it is done when it has absorbed the water and is tender, but not mushy. If the water has all been absorbed, but the rice isn’t quite done yet, add up to 1/2 cup more liquid, cover and simmer for 5 more minutes.
To serve, transfer to a heated dish and sprinkle with the reserved parsley and onion tops.
Once you figure out the timing on your stove, you can make perfect rice every time. The trick is to turn the heat down very low while simmering so that the rice does not scorch.
I use a large, deep, antique cast iron skillet for this dish – and many others. I purchased a glass lid in the kitchen section of a little hardware store that fits perfectly when I need to cover the pan.