Sometimes I get such a jonesing, such a strong pull towards Creole food that I can’t stop myself. What I can do though, is change-up some of the more rich ingredients and substitute them for more healthful ones. That’s precisely what I did with traditional dirty rice and dinner was a triumph. I want preparation to be a speedy, low-labor process and this was. All my vegetables were organic and non-GMO plus I made use of organic chicken sausage in place of conventional sausage or ground beef. The chicken livers melt into the other ingredients giving the meal a satiny finish. So don’t get all scaredy cat over the word “liver”. White rice was replaced by fragrant brown Basmati rice and with so many flavors ricocheting in your mouth, you’ll never notice the change. This is the perfect dish to bake whenever you have leftover rice on hand.
Creole Tomatoes and Peppers Stuffed with Dirty Rice
- 5-6 medium sized tomatoes, cored and hollowed, tops reserved. Save the inside of tomatoes for another recipe
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 5-6 small to medium sized bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, tops reserved
- 3 cups cooked long grain rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- 1 cup finely chopped cooked ham
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage, out of casings, chicken or turkey is fine
- 1 pound chicken livers, drained
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 ribs of celery, finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 large tomato, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup white wine
- Preheat oven to 350° and cover the inside of a 9X13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set dish aside.
- In a large, deep, non-stick skillet place 1 tablespoon of olive oil and bring heat up to medium-high.
- Add chopped ham to the pam and lightly brown.
- Remove browned ham, I throw it in with the rice so as not to dirty up another bowl, and add sausage to the pan, breaking it up as it browns.
- When sausage is thoroughly cooked remove from skillet leaving the pan drippings. I put the sausage with the rice and ham.
- Add the drained chicken livers to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. You want them still pink inside as they’ll cook further in the oven. Leave any pan juices in the pan.
- Add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the pan juices and add the onion, stirring and cooking until translucent.
- Add the celery, garlic and scallions, stirring well and cooking for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the thyme and Worcestershire sauce and stir until all ingredients are well combined.
- Add the chopped tomato and stir to combine all flavors.
- Taste for any needed salt and/or pepper.
- Remove skillet from heat and mix in rice-meat mixture.
- Spoon dirty rice mixture into the hollowed out tomatoes and peppers, replace tops of the vegetables and position snugly in baking dish.
- Pour wine onto bottom of baking dish, cover with tin foil and bake in oven for 45-60 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender.
- Cool for 10-15 minutes prior to serving.
Wow, was last week great, or what? The week ended with a brilliant Easter day here in south Florida. I didn’t cook. Jimmy, ever so generously, took us all to brunch. James ordered Crab Benedict which got me to thinking THIS week about crab….and remoulade sauce. Homemade remoulade sauce. And not some chemical-laden, jarred mayonnaise with a bunch of dried up, processed herbs and spices thrown in. NO, I craved the mile-long list of ingredients remoulade from the likes of Craig Claiborne and Julia Reed sitting alongside Pat Conroy’s crab cakes. Lee Bailey’s recipe is also lovely but his makes up 6 cups. A little more than I need on this spring day. Easy and quickly made, the sauce does require quite a few components but I’ve got to tell you, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator. I ate my weight in remoulade during the late 70’s in New Orleans. I was living in Atlanta and I was so lonely and lost. Those were bad…BAD years for me. Since I worked with Delta I would fly to N’awlins any chance I could and stay with a dear, sweet ex-neighbor from midtown Atlanta. His partner had up and left him for a richer man so my friend, Tommy, put in for a transfer to New Orleans and got it. We spent countless nights depressed and unhappy, losing ourselves in bourbon and gorging ourselves with the freshest of local seafood. Every time I left I was still a sad mess but I always welcomed the incredible escape of that city and its celebrated cuisine. Remoulade is spicy and the heady mix of ingredients will play in your mouth hard and long. It’s heaven. And it stays fresh in the refrigerator for a good week as long as you are diligent making sure your knives, cutting board, food processor and blade, etc. are spotless before using. Don’t skimp on the lemon and vinegar as those two ingredients also help to prevent bacteria. Furthermore it’s not just good with seafood. How about a BLT on a pretzel roll slathered with remoulade? Oh, and the tomato is a tart, fried green tomato. Mercy. This recipe is from Julia Reed’s book “Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties”. You’ll love it!
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
- 1/4 lemon, seeded and cut up including rind
- 1 bay leaf, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Place the yolks in a blender or food processor and blend for 1 minute.
- With the machine running, add the oil gradually in a thin stream until the emulsion is thickened.
- One at a time, add the remaining ingredients and process until well blended and the lemon rind is finely chopped.
- Transfer the sauce to a covered container and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Note: This should be enough to toss with a pound and a half of medium to large shrimp.