My family loves spicy food, especially Creole and Cajun. One of our favorite dishes is Dirty Rice. Traditionally, Dirty Rice is made with rice and leftover livers, gizzards, and hearts from poultry. There is plenty of bacon fat and butter, too. Because I’m the only one in the family who will eat liver, and because we try to follow a heart-healthy diet, I’ve had to lean up and clean up traditional recipes.
Here is my version of Dirty Rice. I use the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, but I’ve made it in my cast iron dutch oven, stovetop, too. Just add cooking time and a bit more broth if you aren’t pressure cooking.
Makes 4 meal servings or 8 side servings
- 12 ounces turkey sausage
- 1 Tbsp. safflower or Canola oil + 1 Tbsp. butter
- 2¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 ½ cups medium grain brown rice (white rice will overcook)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 1/2 bell pepper, diced (should be green, but we like red)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. dried Cajun seasoning mix
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat pot without the lid using the sauté setting. When it’s hot, add the oil and butter.
- Brown the ground turkey sausage.
- Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and rice. Sauté.
- Add the garlic and Cajun seasoning mix, remove from heat (hit “cancel”) and stir to “bloom” the spices.
- Pour in the broth and deglaze any cooked-on goodness to enhance flavor. Secure lid to cooker, and set for 20 minutes (If using a stovetop pressure cooker, cook for 15 minutes).
- When cooking time is up, remove from heat (hit “cancel” and unplug), and allow pressure to drop on its own a minimum of 10 minutes.
- Release any remaining pressure. Carefully open lid and stir to fluff the rice.
- Taste test and add salt or pepper as needed.
- Serve as a side or main dish. Be sure to bake cornbread to go with it.
We love the spicy flavors of New Orleans style dishes, but we need to watch our waistlines. So I’ve lightened one of our favorites, red beans and rice, by using chicken sausage. I also serve with cooked brown rice instead of traditional white rice to boost fiber. By soaking the beans, I shorten the cooking time and avoid over cooking the sausage.
Although my recipe uses the pressure cooker, you can cook it stovetop. It will take more time, but either way, you’ll end up with a healthy version of New Orleans style red beans and rice.
New Orleans Style Red Beans with Rice
- 12 ounces chicken Andouille sausage, sliced in ¼” rounds
- 8 ounces dried red beans, soaked at least 3 hours or overnight
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups chicken broth or water
- 1 Tbsp. dried Cajun seasoning mix
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- Preheat pressure cooker pot and add the olive oil.
- Sauté the onions, peppers, and celery (known as the trinity in New Orleans).
- Add garlic and Cajun seasonings and stir for 30 seconds or long enough to “bloom” the spices.
- Add sausage and broth, and then seal cooker.
- Bring to pressure and cook 15 minutes (Or if using an electric pressure cooker, cook 20 minutes).
- Allow pressure to drop on its own at least 10 minutes.
- Release remaining pressure, carefully open lid, and serve in bowls over 1/2 cup brown rice.
*If you prefer tomatoes in your red beans (we don’t), stir in a can of diced tomatoes after cooking the beans as soon as you open the pot. (For fiery hot beans, use tomatoes and green chilies!) The residual heat will warm the tomatoes through without cooking them to mush.
Check out this healthful and tasty dish from my friend, author Nancy Cohen.
Nancy's Notes From Florida
Here’s an easy one-dish meal that you can serve alone or with a salad.
Shrimp Brown Rice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
16 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. saffron powder
48 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
1-2 lbs. cooked, deveined shrimp
12 oz. frozen broccoli florets
8 oz. frozen peas
In a Dutch oven, sauté onion, red pepper, and mushrooms in oil until tender. Stir in the rice, garlic and saffron. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, then add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Add broccoli, peas, and shrimp, and cook until heated through. Serves 6-8.
Find more of my favorite recipes at http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/recipes/
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Hoppin’ John is a dish that originated in the Low Country (Carolinas) made with black-eyed peas and rice. I usually cook Hoppin’ John in the pressure cooker (As in Chef Cheri’s Hasty Tasty Meals ©2003), but this version is tasty and worth a little extra work. Use a 5-quart cast iron Dutch oven for best results. You will need a 1-quart covered saucepan or rice cooker for the rice, plus a tea kettle for boiling water.
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup long grain brown rice
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 tsp. salt, divided
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pound dried black-eyed peas (soaked overnight and rinsed)
- 6 cups water
- 1 can Rotel® tomatoes and green chilies
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 lb. cooked Andouille sausage
- Preheat cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat and melt 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter.
- Add the brown rice and stir. Toast the rice, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
- Spoon the rice into a 1-quart saucepan. Add 2 cups boiling water and 1 tsp. salt. Cover and cook over low heat for twenty-five minutes or until tender. Do not overcook.
- Add 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter to the Dutch oven and sauté the onions over low heat. After ten minutes add the garlic, bay leaf, and the black-eyed peas.
- Stir to combine then add 6 cups water. Cover Dutch oven.
- Time for two hours and cook over low heat. After about 30 minutes, lift the cover and move it to allow steam to escape.
- After the peas are cooked, add 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper. Salting peas earlier may make them tough.
- Add ½ pound cooked Andouille sausage cut into ½ inch slices, along with the can of Rotel®. Remove the bay leaf.
- Remove Dutch oven from heat, stir in rice, and serve. Covered, the hoppin’ John will keep warm for about an hour.
Yield: About 6 meal-size servings or 12 side dish servings.