Clean Chicken, Dirty Rice

One exciting part of buying well-raised and carefully-butchered poultry is the prize inside—the little bag of giblets. Sure, something like that arrives with a grocery-store chicken, but one look reveals almost no resemblance between those flaccid, randomly-selected “parts”—in hues wan or livid—and the neat and perky little heart, liver, and gizzard that your clean chicken contains. If you order half a dozen such birds and ask for all the livers together, a fabulous paté is yours for the making, but what to do with those few organs from a solo fowl? Those thrifty and wise Louisiana cooks point the way with a dish that has been known to make liver-lovers out of the offal-averse.

“Dirty Rice”

  • 4 tablespoons butter (or a combination butter and rendered chicken fat)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-6 scallions, chopped
  • the liver, heart, and gizzard from one or two chickens, finely chopped
  • 1 cup raw long-grain rice
  • 2 cups great chicken broth (from your last clean chicken)
  • a few sprigs of parsley, minced
  • freshly ground pepper and kosher salt

You need a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid. Melt the butter in it over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic and scallions. Sauté a few more minutes until tender, but not browning. Add the chopped innards and cook, stirring, for another minute—they should just begin to firm up. Toss in the rice, mix well, and then add the broth. Stir it once. As soon as it approaches a simmer, turn the heat to low, and cover the pot. Test for doneness after 20 minutes; add parsley and pepper and possibly salt.

Serves 2 as a main dish; 4 as a side.

Adapted from Recettes Préferées de la Nouvelle Orleans, by Suzanne Ormond, Mary E. Irvine, and Denyse Cantin (Pelican, 1979). Used by permission.

by Paula Marcoux

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