This super-quick comfort food can be put together in the time it takes a pot of rice to cook. It can be made with ground beef. I prefer the liver version, but some people find liver horrifying. If you do use ground beef, get the fatty stuff, not fancy ground round. Animal fat is what makes this taste good.
Cheater step: don’t bother dicing the livers. Just wash ’em, put ’em in the pan with the butter and spices, and stir and mash them with a spoon while they cook. You can also snip them up a bit with kitchen scissors during the cooking stage. Don’t go nuts. Some chunks are desirable. Also, super-fresh livers may disintegrate without much mashing required!
Jen’s Dirty Rice
1 cup rice (brown or white)
2 cups water or stock
3/4 up to 1 lb chicken livers, washed and diced
8 Tablespoons butter (1 stick or ¼ lb)
1 T kosher salt
1 T sugar
1 T dried basil leaves
1 T powdered garlic (yes, because it tastes different from fresh)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 t powdered cayenne pepper
(optional) 1 t anise seed)
Cook the rice in the stock with 2T of the butter and 1 t salt. If desired, include 1 t anise seed.
Crush all the rest of the dry seasonings in a pestle until they’re aromatic. Put them in a large frying pan with the rest of the butter and heat the pan.
Stew the chicken livers in the seasoned butter until they’re no longer pink. While they cook, using a spoon or pastry cutter, smash the livers until they resemble ground beef in texture. You may want to use a scissors to snip membranes. There will be some bigger chunks, which is fine. Do not put the livers in a blender or food processor. That way you will get liver butter, which messes up the texture of the recipe.
When the rice is cooked, mix it into the liver mixture.
This is a blander dirty rice than my Southern friends talk about. Theirs tends to be much spicier. Mine is comfort food—dense, rich, salty and savory, porridgey in texture, with just a touch of peppery zip.
You can make this with any kind of rice. I use white or brown Basmati, a nutty-flavored rice found in the Indian section of your grocery. Alternatively, try it with wild rice, brown rice, plain white long-grain rice, whatever. The magic is in the chicken liver and the butter. Don’t skimp on the butter.
I’ve been tempted to try this with a Masaman (mild yellow) curry powder and throw in a handful of soaked currants. That would get me lynched below the Mason-Dixon line, but you don’t have to tell anyone I suggested it.