Dirty rice is a traditional Louisiana dish that gets it name from the chopped chicken giblets and ground meat that “dirty” the white rice. The browned bits of meat create a rich and deeply flavored rice. Oftentimes families would season and cook a whole chicken and then use the livers, gizzards, and tougher parts of the bird to make the rice. It is a perfect example of the waste-not dishes that are quintessential to the food from this region.
We are going to make a one pan mushroom and chicken version that is, dare I say, as richly flavored as the traditional recipe. The quick mushroom stock made from the king of mushrooms, porcinis, and the fresh mushroom varieties used in this recipe create a dish that is firmly grounded in its earthiness.
Lovers of mushrooms, this is a rice pilaf for you. It unabashedly screams with bold mushroominess (yes that is a word). And for those of you who aren’t fans of mushrooms…um well I’m not really sure what to say besides why?? Also, we may encounter some rockiness in this relationship of ours; mushrooms are one of my absolute favorite ingredients, and you will be sure to see them used often and in abundance in my recipes. Seriously though, give mushrooms a chance. They add so much flavor to anything they are cooked with.
To this mushroom heaven, we toss in some juicy chicken thighs, the magic of the holy trinity, and the zing of creole spices; I promise that you will take one taste of this rice and never want to put it down.
C R E O L E C H I C K E N W I T H M U S H R O O M D I R T Y R I C E
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
5 free-range chicken thighs
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
5 teaspoons creole seasoning
3 generous cups assorted mushrooms, such as maitake, shiitake, and oyster
2 cups yellow onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 serrano chile, diced with seeds *
3 fresh bay leaves **
1/4 teaspoon fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped
1 cup crushed tomatoes ***
1 cup long grain rice, such as basmati
thinly sliced scallions and parsley for garnish
Make a quick mushroom stock by covering the dried porcini mushrooms with 1 1/4 cup of boiling water. Set aside until use.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, season both sides of the chicken thighs with 1 tsp of sea salt and 2 tsp of creole seasoning. In a medium sized cast iron pan or any heavy bottom pan, heat up a thin layer of grapeseed oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, brown the chicken, 3-5 minutes on each side. Take out of pan and set aside.
Roughly chop up the fresh mushrooms and the porcini mushrooms that have been soaking. Make sure to reserve the porcini mushroom liquid, but filter out any soot. In the same pan where you browned the chicken, add the fresh mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, and 1/4 tsp sea salt. Sautée over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from pan.
Add the diced onions and garlic and cook until they are translucent. Season with 1/4 tsp of salt. Next, add in the celery, green bell pepper, serrano chile, bay leaves, fresh oregano, and fresh thyme. Season with the rest of the salt and creole seasoning. Sautée until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Toss your mushrooms back into the pan, mix well. Add the crushed tomatoes, rice, and reserved porcini stock. Make sure you stir and coat each grain of rice with the spices and all the yummy vegetable juices.
Lay the chicken on top of the rice mixture skin side up. Turn the heat down to a low simmer. Cover well and cook for 30 minutes. After that time, turn off the heat and allow to sit covered for 15 more minutes.
Fluff the rice and serve topped with generous handfuls of scallions and parsley.
* deseed the chile if you prefer your food mild
** if fresh bay leaves are unavailable, dried will work
*** I used tomatoes that I jarred last summer, but good quality canned tomatoes will do just fine