Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dirty rice

Dirty rice is a New Orleans classic, one I like to make (and eat) on a regular basis. Southern cooking evolved by making a little bit of fat go a long way; and while that's a definite liability at times (note the obesity rates in Mississippi), it's also a cuisine perfectly suited to frugality.

2-3 Italian sausages
1 container chicken livers
equal amounts (maybe 1 to 1 1/2 cups of each) chopped onion, celery and green pepper
4 c cooked rice

Squeeze the sausages out of the casing and let brown in a big skillet, breaking the chunks up as they cook. Rinse and chop the chicken livers, and add. Add the onion, celery and green pepper, and let this mixture cook down for maybe ten minutes. Meanwhile, start the rice. (Any kind will do. The traditional recipe calls for plain old white rice, but I've also used brown and basmati.) Add seasonings to the meat mixture (salt, pepper, cayenne), and when the rice is done, stir it all together. Add lots of chopped parsley. Eat.

Cost: $2 for the chicken livers, maybe $1 for the sausages, maybe 50 cents for everything else. $3.50 total, serves four to six, depending on whether you serve it as a side or a main course. I bought the sausages in bulk at Sam's (3 packages of 8 for around $6, or 25 cents each) and the peppers on sale (10 for $10; I chopped them all and put them in the freezer for future cooking). Naturally, the rice was a bulk purchase, as well.

I generally serve one thing per meal when I'm just cooking for myself. Some people like two or three things per meal, a meat and a couple of sides. That's fine, but the more items you add to a meal, the more the cost goes up--especially if meat is involved. One thing means you just have to cook (and clean up) one thing.

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