Celebrate Mardi Gras and make your weeknight dinner epic with this Cajun Dirty Rice!
Do you remember the moment when you first met some of your closest friends? More often than not, good friendships just develop over time…but it’s still fun to think about the first time you met. Although my wife and I now live in upstate New York, many of my closest guy friends live way down in south Louisiana. I lived in Louisiana for several years, and looking back it was a really strange sequence of events that led to me living down there. (Isn’t it always a strange sequence of events?)
One of my best dude friends has always been a huge Duke basketball fan. Long story short, he reached out to me when I was in college at Duke to ask about coming up to a game. Tickets to Duke basketball games aren’t exactly easy to come by, but we stayed in touch via email for a number of years. During my senior year, he invited me down for Mardi Gras…and on a whim I took him up on the offer. A couple of us piled in the car and made the road trip from Durham, NC to New Orleans, LA. And we’ve been friends ever since! (I did manage to get him tickets to a Duke game later that year.)
After college, I ended up moving down to Louisiana for a change of scenery. It was one of the most epic decisions ever. Along the way, I met loads of awesome friends. We’ve cooked ginormous pots of gumbo together outside of Tiger Stadium. We’ve caught many beads together down in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Heck, we’ve even dressed as leprechauns together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Years later, we still stay in touch. In fact, several of these guys were in my wedding. It’s crazy to think back to those early days before I realized that these guys would turn into life-long friends.
Seeing as how upstate New York is a long way from south Louisiana, I don’t get to hang out with these guys as often as I’d like. (We did do a dude’s trip to NYC for a Mets game last summer which was awesome!) But I’m particularly missing south Louisiana right now given that we’re right in the midst of Mardi Gras season. If you’ve never been to Mardi Gras, then you definitely need to put it on your bucket list. (For the record, Mardi Gras isn’t necessarily all about crazy debauchery. Once you get away from the French Quarter, there’s a whole different side of Mardi Gras. There’s still a party atmosphere for sure, but it’s a bit more…uh…family friendly.)
I can’t think about south Louisiana and Mardi Gras without thinking about delicious Cajun food. I was exposed to a whole new foodie culture down there in Louisiana. From Shrimp Etouffee to Red Beans and Rice, Cajun cuisine is all about tasty comfort food. I realized recently that I’ve never posted my recipe for Dirty Rice, and that’s definitely a problem! I clearly needed to fix that. After a particularly long snow-blowing and snow-shoveling session the other day, I hopped into the kitchen and cooked up a batch of Dirty Rice. (To be fair, my wife did most of the work this time since I was outside playing in the snow.)
Dirty Rice is one of the easiest recipes ever. Traditionally, Dirty Rice is made with chicken livers and ground pork. I’m not a huge fan of liver, so I make mine with sliced andouille sausage instead. Dirty Rice is also commonly made with ground beef. I just happened to have some andouille sausage in my freezer, so I went that direction this time. Like any self-respecting Cajun recipe, this Dirty Rice draws a ton of flavor from the holy trinity of Cajun cooking: onions, bell peppers and celery. Add in the andouille sausage and some fresh scallions, and you’ve got one heck of an awesome dinner.
How did you guys meet some of your best friends? I’d love to hear your stories!