Showing posts with label roux. Show all posts
Showing posts with label roux. Show all posts

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Gram’s Cajun Rice Dressing

Rice dressing with pork, beef, chicken livers and gizzards, seasoned with onion, bell pepper and garlic, just like my grandmother used to make it, hence the title, Gram's Cajun Rice Dressing! Some Cajun cookbooks call this “dirty rice” but in my family, we just call it dressing.

Many years ago my cousin, Simone, put together a family cookbook of favorites and kindly made copies to share with the rest of us. When the Sunday Supper theme for today was announced – National Grandparents Day – I knew that would be the best place to start looking for one of my grandmother’s recipe that I haven’t already shared. I’ve posted quite a few because those are ones I still cook all the time but I needed fresh inspiration. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t thought about my grandmother’s dressing in quite a while but as soon as I turned to that page, I knew I couldn’t make anything else.

Rice dressing was always a favorite on both of my grandmother’s dinner tables, making an appearance quite regularly not just for Thanksgiving or Christmas but often also on Sundays.

In the old days, they would grind the liver and gizzards at home in a meat grinder or asked the butcher to do it, but nowadays we use a food processor. In fact, to make it even easier, folks living in Louisiana can buy the “dressing mix” pre-made in every grocery store and my mom informs me that it’s even available in Houston.

If you aren’t a liver lover, you can leave it out, but I’d like to reassure you that with only four whole livers in all that rice and ground meat, the flavor is very, very subtle. I think they are essential to get the right flavor.

Gram’s Cajun Rice Dressing

This rice dressing makes me miss my grandmothers but it also brings back wonderful memories of them. This is the taste of home.

For the rice:
2 cups or 400g uncooked long-grained rice
1 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

For the roux:
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon or 42g flour
1/4 cup or 60ml canola or other light oil

For the dressing:
8 chicken gizzards (about 4 oz or 115g)
4 whole chicken livers (about 4 oz or 115g)
3/4 lb or 340g ground pork
1/2 lb or 227g ground beef
1 large onion
1 small green bell pepper (capsicum)
1 small bunch green onions (plus more to garnish, if desired)
2 cloves garlic
Salt, black pepper, cayenne to taste
8 cups cooked rice

Cook your rice with the salt by your favorite method. I’m not giving water amounts or cooking times since rice varies so widely. My grandmothers would have used a local Louisiana rice that was relatively short-grained but since I can’t get that in Dubai, I’ve used long-grained Indian Basmati. Long-grained rice fluffs up more so my two cups raw made eight cups of cooked rice.

While the rice is cooking, you can make the roux. Using the amount of flour and oil in the ingredients list, follow the instructions here: How to Make Roux. Set the roux pot aside to cool in a sink filled with a little cool water. You don't want it to continue to darken once it's done. Don't get any water in the pot though!

Put your gizzards in the food processor and chop them up finely. Add in the liver and give it another few pulses to chop the liver as well.

Add the oil to a large pot or pan and then tip in the ground pork, ground beef and your chopped liver and gizzards.

Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, breaking the meat into small pieces with your spoon as it cooks.

While the meat is cooking, finely chop your onion, bell pepper, green onions and garlic.

Once the meat is well browned and even a little crispy, add in the chopped vegetables. Stir well.

Cook the mixture over a medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and just about disappear.

Add in your roux and a cup or two of water and stir well. Season the mixture with salt, fresh ground black pepper and cayenne to taste. We like ours pretty spicy.

Lower the fire and simmer for a couple of hours, adding water occasionally when the mixture gets a little too dry. You want to end up with a thick meat-filled gravy.

Gently fluff your rice with a fork to separate the grains and then mix the rice in with the meat.

Garnish with some chopped green onions or parsley.


What special recipes have your grandparents handed down to you? Here’s a list of favorites from my Sunday Supper family.

Sweets that are the Sweetest
Savory Meals with Special Memories


Roux - How to - with step-by-step photos

The essential start to many Cajun dishes, a good dark roux isn't hard to make, but it does take a lot of stirring and a watchful eye. Rule number one - Never turn your back on a roux!

A couple of years back, I shared this process with photos at the beginning of my chicken and sausage gumbo recipe but since a good old-copper-penny colored roux is so important to many Cajun dishes, I decided that perhaps it was time to give How to Make a Roux its own post.

1 1/2 cups or 190g plain flour
1 cup or 240ml oil (I prefer canola.)

In a heavy pot, preferably a black iron skillet or some other heavy gauge vessel, mix your flour and oil and stir until there aren't any lumps.

Cook the mixture over medium to medium high heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until roux begins to turn brown.

0 minutes

7 minutes

12 minutes

14 minutes

18 minutes

20 minutes

22 minutes

24 minutes

Depending on temperature and the thickness of your pot, you may have to stir constantly because roux has a tendency to burn. A medium heat is safer; it just takes longer. Continue cooking until the roux turns a very dark, chocolate brown. Should the roux burn (Everyone does it at least once, so don’t feel too bad.) toss it out and start again, otherwise your entire dish will have that burnt taste.

27 minutes - it looks delicious but do NOT try to taste it. It's hotter than the hinges of hell and will burn your mouth off. Also, it doesn't actually taste good. 

The roux will be VERY hot so be careful when handling it and try to stir without splashing on yourself or a nearby “helper.”

In fact, it's best if you make your helper go sit on his bed.

Remove the roux from stove and cool it down quickly by adding whatever chopped vegetables are called for in your recipe or by setting the pot in a sink partially filled with cool water.

Store unused roux in a clean jar in the refrigerator once cooled, where it will keep for months.

Recipes with roux

Gram's Cajun Rice Dressing

Crawfish Étouffée

Chicken Spaghetti

Slow Roasted Pork

Cajun Courtbouillon or Shrimp and Fish Stew

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Slow Roasted Pork that Makes its Own Gravy

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I like Egypt and that the Egyptians I have met so far have been kind and warm and helpful.  These are generalizations but they also seem to love a good conspiracy theory; have an intense distrust of the police; with them, family always comes first and family includes everyone from fathers and sisters to aunts and nephews to cousins once-removed; and personal and family honor is the most important guide to behavior. 

For the first time in their lifetimes, Egyptians of all strata of society and creeds were excited about the chance to vote in a fair democratic election last week.  Viewership for the first presidential debate in the history of this ancient nation was incredibly high, as the average person finally felt that his or her vote would count and they took the task of deciding the best candidate for the country very seriously. 

I am reminded of the response from Egyptian novelist and Nobel Prize winner, Naguib Mahfouz to an 1992 interview question in The Paris ReviewIn Egypt today most people are concerned with getting bread to eat.  Only some of the educated understand how democracy works.  Sadly, Mr. Mahfouz died in 2006.  I think the level of understanding his people have now would astound him.   My only prayer is that democracy will actually work in this case because it seems that no one is thrilled with the winners so far.  The first round of voting took place last Wednesday and Thursday and there will be a run off between the top two candidates in June.  

All that said, I try not to discuss politics here, simply because, as an expat and a resident visitor in a foreign country, I don’t feel I am entitled to expound on things I don’t know enough about.  Also, there’s the loyalty issue.  Criticizing another country or culture is like complaining about your boss or company.  You don’t like them, find another job.  But while you are employed there, you should speak positively, or at the very least, keep quiet.  I am here watching, and waiting and praying for a peaceful outcome, just like most Egyptians.  So, let’s get on to the recipe I made to celebrate this historic vote because someone kind and generous gave me a pork roast to cook. (Thanks, Audrey!)  Since pork (and the alcohol that accompanied its consumption) is wildly inappropriate for an Egyptian celebration, you will be relieved to know that all of my guests were other expats.  

For the roast:
1 pork roast – mine was a whopping 19 lbs (When I opened the package there were actually two pieces.)
Sea salt
Black pepper

For the roux:
3 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups canola or sunflower oil
2 large onions
Medium bunch of celery 
2 green bell peppers or capsicum

Preheat your oven to 200°F or about 95°C.  (You are going to SLOOOOW roast this for eight hours.)

Put your oil and flour together in a thick, heavy pot.  

We are going to make a big roux, just like we made for chicken and sausage gumbo.  Check out the link for a more serious and thorough discussion of roux making.  (If your pork roast is smaller, make a quarter or half the roux or whatever the right proportion would be.  But a little more or a little less will still be just as delicious.  You will just have less or more gravy.) 

Cook over a low to medium heat, stirring regularly while it is still pale but stirring constantly as it gets darker.  

You are looking for a deep toffee/chocolate color at the end.  This could take as long as 30 minutes.  Be very careful near the end as it darkens rather quickly and you do not want it to burn.

Chop your onions, bell pepper and celery by hand or in a food processor.  

Sometimes celery here has tiny little stalks but it still tastes the same. 

Celery - leaves and all. 

I chopped these one by one in the food processor but didn't think you needed a photo of each one.  

When the roux is dark enough, add in the vegetables and mix thoroughly.   Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the vegetables have softened.  

Spoon the roux into the bottom of your roasting pan. 

If you have a fatty side on your pork roast, season that side with the salt, black pepper and cayenne.  

Put it fat side down in the roux.  Season the other side well and add water about half way up the roast.

Cover tightly with foil and then the roaster cover (if it has one) and put it in your preheated oven.  Set a timer for four hours.  (If you are doing this overnight, you can skip this and the next step.  Set your timer for eight hours.  10 p.m. to 6 a.m. is perfect.)

After four hours, turn the roast over, stir the gravy around, ladling a little of it over the top of the roast.  I also sprinkled a little more salt, black pepper and cayenne on it.   

After four hours of slow roasting.

The other side with with gravy on and more seasonings.
Cover again and slow roast for a further four hours.  

Remove from the oven and skim the grease off the top of the gravy.  Discard. 

After eight hours of slow roasting!

I also chose to take most of the top fat off with a spoon but you can leave it on, if you prefer. 

With the extra fat removed.

Stir the gravy around and check the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.  Serve over the pork with mashed potatoes or rice.  This roast falls apart at the touch of a spoon.  No knife necessary!  No kidding.


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