Quail on a bed of dirty rice
Some odd bits of kitchen lore have come to my mind lately. With the approach of berry season, I’ve been thinking about the inevitable stains. Did you know the best way to eradicate fruit stains is to pour boiling water through them. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it works every time. Just be sure it is a fruit stain, not chocolate or something that hot water will permanently set in the fabric.
Lesson learned: never realized that lemon will bleach, but yesterday, making tuna salad, I splattered some on my blue T-shirt, which already had bacon grease splatters on it. I thought, “Just lemon juice. It will dry.” Later in the day I looked down and realized that it had faded the color where it landed. If I had wiped it with a wet paper towel, I bet I would have diluted it and everything would have been fine.
I’m working hard to avoid prepared foods these days as a matter of health. I don’t want the additives that they put into things, so I’ve been creative with two things lately: one by accident. I was making dirty rice and meant to buy Cajun seasoning at Central Market, where they offer bulk spices. But I forgot. So I got on the Web and looked up recipes. To my surprise, it had thyme, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, and just a pinch of cayenne. I expected a basically red spice but not so. I’ve done the same thing with apple pie and pumpkin pie spices. Why add another rarely-used spice to an already over-crowded shelf?
Making a dish that called for stuffing mix, I made my own croutons seasoned with sage, salt, pepper and thyme. They were so good I almost ate them plain instead of using in the mix. Again, the idea came from the Web. Stuffing mix is nothing but croutons you add water or broth to, so why pay more for added preservatives.
Here’s the dirty rice recipe I used—and liked a lot. It’s my own version of a couple of recipes:
1-1/2 cups long-grain rice
2-3 cups chicken broth
Olive oil as needed
½ lb. ground pork
½ c. chicken livers (optional)
3 slices bacon
2 celery stalks
1 4 oz. can chopped chiles or a jalapeño if you prefer
2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
2 green onions, sliced.
Cook rice and set aside to cool.
If using chicken livers, pureé quickly in blender.
Cook bacon until crisp and set aside.
In bacon grease, brown ground pork. When it is browned, add onion, celery, chiles, and brown over medium heat. Lower heat if needed. Add livers and cook until all pink is gone.
Add1 c. chicken broth to the pan and scrape to deglaze the pan. Add Cajun season and boil until chicken broth is reduced to about 2 Tbsp. (If you prepare this ahead, you may have to add more broth when reheating to serve.) Add cooled rice to mixture in the skillet and stir well.
When serving, sprinkle with sliced green onions.