My husband and I recently visited our cousins who now own a cabin in the Colorado mountains. The guys cooked our dinners, and both of them created one-dish meals. They chopped all their ingredients at one time on a Texas-size cutting board. One was a delicious campfire dish and the other a curry stir fry with an interesting ingredient of eggplant. They seemed so simple. It made me want to find more recipes for one-dish meals. And what do you know? Dale has one for us today. [RuthAnn]
This recipe has its roots in the South; specifically Louisiana. But southern cooks know a good thing when they see it, so dirty rice is common in all of the southern states. This is a side dish, but if you add a little more shrimp and sausage it makes an excellent main dish. If you use it as a main dish, serve some vine ripened tomatoes and some battered and fried okra on the side. You could also replace the fried okra with some crisp pickled okra and you would have a beautiful, but lighter and easier Cajun meal.
As with other traditional dishes there is more than one way to do it and many cooks have had friendly, and not so friendly, debates as to the right way to cook dirty rice. So I will start off by saying that this is my way but feel free to add anything that you think I have omitted.
You will need:
1 Small Yellow Onion 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
2 Ribs of Celery 2 tsp. of Tomato Paste
1 Green Bell Pepper 2 tsp. of Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbs. Canola Oil 1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
8 oz. Pork Sausage 1 tsp Salt
1 cup of Uncooked Rice 2 cups of Chicken Stock
1 tsp. Paprika 8 oz Raw Shrimp
1 Bay Leaf 2 Green Onions
1 tsp. Dried Thyme
- Chop the onion, celery and green bell pepper.
- Chop the two green onions but keep them separate from the other vegetables, because the green onions are your garnish.
- If you are using chicken stock from granules, cubes or paste, mix it.
- If the shrimp is not shelled, deveined and tails removed, do so now. If you are using frozen, already peeled, deveined and tails removed, there is no need to defrost them.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan that has a lid.
- Sauté the celery, onions and bell pepper until the onions start to become translucent.
- Add the sausage to the pan and cook until it is browned. I tried several kinds of sausage. I liked the bulk breakfast sausage best but use what you have on hand as long as it is not pre-cooked. If you have some that is smoked, or otherwise already cooked, you can add that in addition to the uncooked sausage. In fact this is a good way to use those little bits of leftover meats in your refrigerator. That chicken wing that no one ate or that slice of ham that is a little too dry for a sandwich, even seafood. Chop it up and throw it in. This dish is an amalgamation of many flavors.
- Add the uncooked rice. You can use any kind of rice: short grain, long grain, white or brown.
- Add all of the seasonings and continue to cook until every is good and dirty (brown). Stir often. I have been conservative with the seasonings. If you like things spicy, you can add more later.
- Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Add the shrimp, and put a lid on the pan. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for 18 minutes.
- After 18 minutes, turn off the heat, stir the mixture once, put the lid back on and let it steam for another 18 minutes.
- Taste it. This is the place to add more Tabasco sauce if you wish.
- Serve and garnish with the chopped green onion.
Food for Thought: “I did it my way?”
Is doing things “my” way always a bad thing? Dale prompts us to think about this question when he mentions making today’s dish “his” way, but encourages us to do it “our” way.
Doing it “my” way can mean forging ahead with my own plans and desires despite what God thinks or how I affect others. It can mean leaving your wife of 20 years for a younger woman. Or it can simply mean decorating your living room with your personal creative flair.
When we think of doing things “our” way, we might mean something selfish and profligate; or we may mean creating something original. On a higher plane, we might be seeking the fullness of the true self God made us to be.
As we pursue gourmet cooking, we think a great deal about adding a personal touch. Dale’s Elegant Pork L’Orange recipe says, “Add the sugar and cloves. Stir and taste. More sugar? Cloves? More butter? Make any needed adjustments.”
In his Winter Vegetable Puree recipe Dale says, “Add the seasonings, a pinch at a time until you get the balance you like.
Today’s recipe for Dirty Rice reads, “Use the kind of sausage you like, throw in bits of leftover meats from your refrigerator. . . Choose the rice you like best; short grain, long grain, white or brown . . . If you like things spicy, add more Tabasco sauce later.”
When I’m being creative as I arrange a centerpiece for a company table, I’m doing it “my way.” C.S. Lewis says a writer will never develop his own style until he records things exactly as he see them rather than how someone else sees them. Business philosophies often focus on their “unique factor.” They asked themselves, “What do we have to offer that no one else does?”
I recently read a biographical novel about Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny titled, Under the Wide and Starry Sky. In it I discovered that Louis wrote about “the real knot of identity,” and “the central metropolis of self.” He and his close friend Henry James agreed at one point in their lives that “Identity was the great topic.”
In Robert Louis Stevenson’s time, the exploration of Identity was limited to novelists and philosophers. But today our whole culture is obsessed with the subject of Identity. American culture glorifies the “me.” We are bombarded with phrases like, “Do what feels good, take care of yourself; your own inner truth, and the God in you.” We have conversations about discovering the True Self.
What is the True Self exactly? That’s the question I’m exploring in my novel-in-progress. The True Self doesn’t wear masks. It seeks out its unique gifts and pursues them in creative ways. It avoids living to please. It is real. But it is so much more. It is your unique personality, emotions and gifts connected with Christ.
Our task is to find a balance between being self-centered and discovering our True Selves. One of the best ways to find that balance is to spend time in the presence of God. In his book The Only Necessary Thing Henri Nouwen says, “It is in solitude we encounter not only God but also our true self. In fact, it is precisely in the light of God’s presence that we can see who we really are.”