Dirty rice is a traditional Cajun or Creole dish named for the color it takes on, thanks to key ingredients like chicken giblets and liver. It's earthy, heavily spiced, and hearty. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you don't normally have liver and giblets around (I sure don't), but that doesn't mean you can't still throw a version of this dish together on a weeknight.
To make dirty rice more weeknight-friendly, I sub in spicy chicken andouille sausage for the giblets and liver and cook the rice right in the pot with everything else, making this a one-dish meal that tastes like you've been cooking for hours.
The Holy Trinity
Many regional dishes from Louisiana, especially those with Cajun or Creole origins, start with sautéing what's known as the holy trinity: celery, onions, and green bell peppers. It's a little less sweet than a mirepoix, the mixture of onions, celery, and carrots often used in French cooking, but just as complex and earthy once cooked.
Start with cooking this flavorful combination in some sausage fat, then add in uncooked white rice, spices, and chicken broth.
It's OK to Stir the Rice
Most stovetop rice recipes call for you to bring the rice up to a boil, then simmer covered until it's done, leaving it alone the whole time. While I like this method for cooking plain rice, I've found that when there's other ingredients like vegetables or meat cooking with the rice, it can cook unevenly. Stirring the rice halfway through the cooking time ensures much more even cooking, guaranteeing that every grain is tender and fluffy.
One-Pot Weeknight Dirty Rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces cooked andouille chicken sausage, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium celery stalks, diced (about 2/3 cup)
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
4 medium scallions, thinly sliced
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a plate; set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper to the fat in the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the rice, garlic, bay leaf, salt, oregano, thyme, black pepper, and cayenne if using. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice makes a crackling sound, about 3 minutes.
Add the broth, water, and reserved sausage and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil. Stir the rice and spread into an even layer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir the rice, cover again, and cook undisturbed until the rice is tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let sit covered 5 minutes for the rice to steam. Fluff the rice with a fork and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.