In the past few months, I’ve started to yearn for tastes of home. I don’t mean that I’m antsy for a plate of pavlova, a mammoth meat pie, or a sauced-up snag (though I wouldn’t say no to some Vegemite), but rather that I miss the meals I grew up eating with my family.
Over the next little while I’m hoping to recreate, and share with you, many of my family’s favourite recipes. Some are dinners and desserts that I’ve been eating since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, while others are recipes I discovered in my late teens but which quickly became family staples.
Today’s recipe belongs to the latter category. Oddly enough, it’s a dish with origins in the American South: Dirty Rice. I can’t remember exactly when I first created my Aussie spin on this traditionally Cajun dish of rice with capsicums, spices, and ground chicken livers, but I do know that it quickly became a meal Mum and I would cook together once a week.
Before today, I had never made it with anything but kangaroo mince.
However, as kangaroo is not something I can get here in Toronto, I made this version with ground turkey. Feel free to use the meat of your choice, or make it vegan with a meat substitute like Gardein or Boca crumbles, seitan, or perhaps even lentils.
As soon as I took my first bite of this spiced, complex, hearty, nourishing, healthy (one of my additions to the traditional recipe is a quarter kilo of spinach, which melts silkily through the carrot, onion, grains and meat), I immediately felt a rush of familiarity.
My completely inauthentic Dirty Rice is one of my favourite recipes of all time, and it tastes like joy, hugs, and home. Instead of using all basmati rice, as I would in Australia, I this time tried out a 7 Grain Medley for the grain base. The combination of long grain rice, barley, rye, wild rice, oats, spelt, and wheat grains added a nutty chew that I adored.
This one-pot dinner is ridiculously easy to make and infinitely adaptable. Give it a try, and who knows? It might just become a new family favourite for you too.