Lamb Dirty Rice

I can’t begin to tell you what compelled me to make dirty rice for Sunday brunch and serve it with Sous Vide pork belly (recipe forthcoming).  In fact, I can’t remember why I thought to make dirty rice in the first place – I’d never cooked it before, and I can’t really remember ever eating it.  Which simply cannot be, but I just don’t remember.

Maybe I’m just getting old.

At any rate, I’m so glad I did – this was simply incredible.  Now that I’ve made it, and know what I’ve been missing, I will make it again.  And again. And again.

It is just THAT good.

Dirty Rice is a classic Cajun dish consisting of rice, the Holy Trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper, bacon and some sort of meat – either ground pork or sausage, and often including chicken livers.  It can be made very spicy, or not spicy at all, whatever suits your palate.

This version isn’t spicy – the inclusion of an entire tablespoon of Cajun seasoning only gives it a bit of a tingle – but it packs a ton of flavor.  What made me decide to deviate from the norm of ground pork and chicken livers was simple convenience – I’m running a bit short on pork (we’ll be sourcing this year’s hog soon), but have 12 full pounds of ground lamb in the freezer.  I also would have had to thaw at least a pound of chicken livers, when I only needed half a cup, minced, but I had the liver from our lamb in there, which only ran about 6 or so ounces.  It seemed like a no-brainer, and you know me – I have no problem shaking things up with a recipe.

The result?  DELICIOUS.  Since I can’t remember eating dirty rice in the past, I can’t tell you how different it might be from a traditional preparation, and while the lamb flavor was noticeable, it was not at all overwhelming.  An impressive and easy dish – and it makes a ton.  Those six servings are quite generous.

Note: The rice preparation is my go-to for rice, and you can make it with just about any amount of rice and with whatever liquid you prefer.  Just keep the proportions to 1 part rice to 2 parts water – follow the directions closely and it will never fail.  Who needs a rice cooker?

Lamb Dirty Rice. The classic and delicious Cajun rice dish with a twist!

Click the image to enlarge

Lamb Dirty Rice
Serves: 6
[i]Adapted from[url href=”” target=”_blank”] Simply Recipes[/url][/i]
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup finely diced lamb liver
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Combine the rice and 3 cups of the chicken broth in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir the rice; cover with a clean dish towel and the lid and let it site for 10 minutes.
  2. Spread the rice out on a shallow-rimmed baking sheet and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over it. Mix to combine and set aside.
  3. While the rice is cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet or pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients, including the rice, over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp.
  4. Increase the heat to high and add the ground pork, breaking it up as it begins to brown. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper, and continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the lamb is cooked through and the vegetables are soft and beginning to turn golden.
  5. Stir in the remaining cup of chicken stock and the diced lamb liver, stirring up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the Cajun seasoning and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until most of the chicken stock has boiled away.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the cooked rice. Toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Stir in the green onions and serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 570 calories, 32g total fat, 125.4mg cholesterol, 671mg sodium, 524.2mg potassium, 46.6g carbohydrates, 1.6g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 22g protein

Hungarian Goulash

Goulash means different things to different people.  Depending on where you live (or where your grandparents are from) it could mean a hearty, thick beef stew with few to no vegetables (although dumplings are common) or it could be a richly flavored soup with meat, potatoes and root vegetables, both generally characterized by generous amounts of paprika.  Or, if you are from certain parts of the northeast or midwestern United States, it’s a mishmash casserole of ground meat, tomato sauce and macaroni or rice.

Growing up in Texas, we generally ate the latter kind, although it wasn’t necessarily called “goulash” – at least, not in our house.  My mother called it “stuff” and she was very good at making it.  As a result, I was also very good at making it when my kids were growing up, although I tended to call it “hurl it in a pan and pray.”  (Kudos to anyone who can tell me where that came from.)

At any rate, it’s the time of year when the leaner, quicker cooking cuts of meat in my freezer are dwindling, but that’s okay because it’s the season for roasts, stews, soups and casseroles; dishes both Beloved and I are very fond of.  So recently, when faced with a rolled chuck roast and no real idea of what to do with it, since I wasn’t in the mood for pot roast, I decided to find out exactly what was in a more traditional goulash.

Like I said, it really all depends on where you live and who you are, especially if you’re of central European descent, and even then what the goulash is composed of and how it’s prepared is really dependent on the cook – like chili or gumbo, everyone seems to have their own recipe.  So I decided to make something that was somewhere between the soup and the stew versions.

Mainly because I like stews and I like vegetables in them.

I was extremely pleased with how this came out; it was just delicious.  And, like most slow-cooked stews, it is even better the next day – it made a marvelous lunch a couple of days later – so don’t be afraid to make it ahead.  It reheats really well, and is so incredibly comforting.

Note:  This can be made Whole30 by substituting the Yukon gold potatoes with turnips or white-fleshed sweet potatoes.  I also used sweet Hungarian paprika; if you want a goulash with a bit of a kick, use a hot paprika.

Hungarian Goulash. Beef chuck is slowly stewed with onions, root vegetables and paprika for a delicious, comforting dish.

Click image to enlarge

Hungarian Goulash
Serves: 6 to 8
  • 3 tablespoons tallow or lard
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 pint tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  1. Heat the fat in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to high; add the beef and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, until the meat is browned, about 5 or 6 minutes. Stir in the paprika, marjoram, caraway, and garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about a minute or two.
  3. Add carrots, parsnips, tomato sauce and beef stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Simmer, covered, until the beef is tender and the liquid has begun to reduce somewhat, about an hour.
  4. Add the potatoes and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 494 calories, 25.8g total fat, 110.7mg cholesterol, 222.4mg sodium, 1551.8mg potassium, 39.7g carbohydrates, 8.4g fiber, 9.4g sugar, 27.6g protein

Cincinnati-Style Chili

Happy Monday everyone!  We had a nice weekend – the skies were blue and the temperatures were in the low 60s; two lovely days of Indian Summer.  We enjoyed it a great deal, which is good because a nasty front is moving through our area today, bringing very cold temperatures, rain and maybe even – sigh – snow.

Ah, well.  One of the nicer things about living in northeast Ohio is that there are actual seasons.  There are two seaons in northeast Texas:  Summer and Christmas.  It’s said there are four in northeast Ohio:  Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter and Construction, but I’ve found that Spring, Summer and Autumn all make appearances, however brief they may seem.

But I think I may have been here too long, if I’m making this dish.  Seriously, when I first moved north, I was appalled at what passes for chili here.  In Podunk, at least, it is little more than tomato soup with ground beef and beans in it.  And those crazy people down in Cincinnati put their version of chili on spaghetti!  It all just seemed so…wrong.

Well, that will teach me, because the idea of making Cincinnati-style chili has been lurking around in what passes for my brain for some time now.  I do have to confess that I’ve never actually eaten Cincinnati-style chili, but that doesn’t mean I can’t speculate on how good (or bad) it might be, and how I would like it to taste.  So I made it Friday night and you know what?  It was pretty darn good.

First, I didn’t serve it on traditional spaghetti, of course, but on a bed of perfectly cooked spaghetti squash which I roasted until it was just fork tender.  The result was spaghetti squash that was almost perfectly al dente.  Secondly, I indulged in some rare – for me, anyway – dairy and tossed the squash with some ghee and some Parmesan cheese.  Traditional Cincinnati-style chili is often topped with beans, which I omitted, cheese and chopped onion, which I included.  It seemed necessary for the dish, but you are more than welcome to leave the dairy out if you want to avoid it.

Lastly, as I mentioned I’ve never actually eaten this kind of chili, so I basically made and tweaked a double batch of my hot dog chili.  My excuse for this, besides the fact that it’s easy and pretty darn tasty, is that I had a commenter tell me her neighbor made the hot dog chili recipe, added jalapenos and beans, and won a chili cook-off with it.

Well, okay then.

I don’t know if it is chili cook-off worthy, but as Cincinnati-style chili, it’s pretty darn good.  I’ll make it again.

Cincinnati-Style Chili
Cincinnati-Style Chili
Cincinnati-Style Chili

Serves: 8
  • 1 large spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 six-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds in the center. Add enough water to cover the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold both halves of the squash, and place the squash in the pan, cut side down. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or just until tender enough to be pierced with the tines of a fork. Take care not to overcook.
  3. While the squash is roasting, brown the ground beef in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. While it is still somewhat pink, add the onion and continue cooking until the meat is cooked through and the onion is soft and translucent.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the tomato paste, water, spices and salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the chili is thickened, about 20 minutes.
  5. Once the squash is roasted, scrape out the flesh with a fork to make long strands into a bowl, handling the hot squash with care. Toss the spaghetti squash with the ghee and Parmesan and divide between 8 plates. Top with the chili, cheese and onion and serve.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 494 calories, 28.8g total fat, 119.1mg cholesterol, 1251.7mg sodium, 1097.4mg potassium, 20g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 9.3g sugar, 42.4g protein


Crawfish Etouffee

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s March.  And while for some March is notable for the wonderfully diametrically opposed events of Lent and St. Patrick’s Day, for me the month heralds the beginning of crawfish season.

Crawfish, also known as crayfish and crawdads, are fresh water crustaceans related to lobsters, which they resemble.  They are found mostly in  warm climates; here, crawfish are prevalent in the southeastern United States and are considered a delicacy.  The flesh is sweet and tender, and I prefer it to shrimp.

We indulged in crawfish every spring while we lived in Texas, but here in Ohio the only way we can find them is frozen, and usually imported from Asia.  I’m generally not a fan of imported seafood, but that’s just about the only way we can get it here unless we want to limit our diet to walleye from Lake Erie or the occasional locally-caught trout, but the crawfish available at our local market was wild caught so we decided to indulge.

Frankly, we’d have preferred to make this dish with fresh crawfish, using the shells and heads for the stock, but you make do with what you have and this was quite good.  If you can get fresh – or better yet, live – crawfish, you really should make this – it’s a marvelous, and easy, recipe; the only adjustment I’d make is to increase the cooking time of the crawfish to about 10 to 12 minutes, since it needs to cook rather than merely heated (but, like shrimp, cooks quickly).

If you avoid shellfish, you can make this with boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into cubes.  It won’t be quite the same, but it will still be delicious.

Crawfish Etouffee
Crawfish Etouffee
Serves: 4
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound frozen crawfish tails, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • pinch of cayenne, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
  1. In a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the crawfish, garlic, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the crawfish for 7 to 10 minutes, or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Dissolve the tapioca starch in the chicken stock and stir into the crawfish mixture; season with salt and cayenne.
  3. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 2 to 4 minutes. Ladle over steamed grated cauliflower or steamed rice; garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 273 calories, 14.2g total fat, 163.4mg cholesterol, 851.5mg sodium, 666.3mg potassium, 13.6g carbohydrates, 1.6g fiber, 4.4g sugar, 22.2g protein.


Red Flannel Hash

Good Monday morning, everyone.  I’m thinking about making Make Ahead Monday a once-a-month thing – opinions?  In the meantime, link up your real food recipes that can be made ahead!

Today’s recipe qualifies as a make ahead meal because it is comprised almost entirely of leftovers and preserved ingredients – things you should already have in your refrigerator and pantry.  And not only is it a quick and easy brunch or dinner, it is really tasty, too!

Beloved and I found ourselves alone Saturday evening, and since it was pretty warm outside, we fired up the grill and made two of our dry-aged rib eye steaks, shrimp, sweet potatoes and prosciutto wrapped asparagus.  It was all wonderful and delicious, but way too much food; after eating the shrimp and asparagus, we barely had any room left over for the steaks and potatoes – we ate less than half of each.

But that was okay, because it solved the problem of what to have for Sunday brunch – who doesn’t love a good hash?  And since Spring is apparently upon us already, we’d been down in the basement taking stock of what was left of the foods we’d canned last summer and fall, and saw that we still had a few jars of pickled beets (I really don’t know how that happened; we both love them and I honestly thought we’d eaten them all).  At any rate, I began to wonder if pickled beets would work for a red flannel hash – most recipes called for leftover boiled or roasted beets, which give the hash an earthy flavor and a lovely red tinge.  However, a little research showed that in pioneer days, when pickling was a popular method of preserving food, pickled beets were common in this rustic dish, so that’s what I used.

It was really, really good.

You can, of course, use roasted or boiled beets and it will be fine.  Or leave them out all together if you don’t care for beets.  If you don’t have any sweet potatoes, white potatoes will work well, too.

Red Flannel Hash
Red Flannel Hash
Serves: 3
  • 6 ounces leftover steak or roast beef, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup leftover cooked sweet potato, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup diced pickled beets
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Melt two tablespoons of the ghee in a 12″ skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 3 or 4 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high; add the beef and sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and beginning to brown slightly.
  2. Reduce the heat slightly and stir in the beets. Press down on the mixture with a spatula, forming a large pancake, and cook until well-browned on the bottom. Flip and cook for a minute or two more, again pressing down with the spatula. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  3. Melt the remaining tablespoon of ghee in another skillet over medium heat; break the eggs into the skillet and cook until the whites are set; carefully flip the eggs over, taking care not to break them. Cook for another 30 seconds and remove from the heat.
  4. Divide the hash between three dishes and top each with one over-easy egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 408 calories, 27.9g total fat, 265.3mg cholesterol, 231.2mg sodium, 571.8mg potassium, 18g carbohydrates, 2.8g fiber, 9.1g sugar, 22g protein.

PLEASE – post recipes with whole, real food ingredients only. Dairy, sprouted grains and legumes and natural sweeteners are allowed, but recipes containing processed or refined ingredients or vegetable oils will be removed.  Don’t forget to link back to this post! Thanks for your cooperation.