In my quest to deliver the tastiest food to you I am absolutely determined to get the dishes out that have been tested and approved by my family, dishes that are equally loved by children and adults, dishes that are quick, easy and inexpensive and preferably a one pot meal. That’s one tall order but Cajun Dirty Rice is exactly that! My kids dance for joy when I say it’s for dinner and, unsurprisingly, so does my husband? It’s been our staple for more than a decade and we are yet to get tired of it.
The origin of this dish is from the south of the United States, probably Louisiana, where it’s still very popular. It takes its name from its appearance as you can see. It used to be cooked with gizzards and livers which made rice look dark or “dirty”. If you have boys in your family the name will be a BIG seller! My boy loves it! You will also be happy to learn that no organ meat was used in this version. 🙂
- Olive oil- 2 tbsp.
- Extra Lean Ground Pork- 1lbs/450gr
- Onion, chopped- 1 medium
- Celery, diced- 2 ribs
- Green bell pepper, diced- 1 medium
- Garlic, minced- 1-2 cloves
- Cayenne- 1/4 tsp.
- Paprika- 1/2 tsp.
- Dried Oregano- 1/2 tsp.
- Bay leaf- 1
- Salt- 1 3/4 tsp.
- Pepper- 1/2 tsp.
- Rice- 1 1/2 cups
- Chicken stock- 3 cups
- Shrimp- 1lbs/450gr
- Green Onions, sliced- 2
Note: Instead of adding all the spices listed I often use a premixed spice. My two favourite ones are Louisiana Hot and Spicy by Victorian Epicure and Cajun Spice by Aromatica Organic Spices. Depending on where you live you can find any Cajun type spice mix from your local grocery store or use what I listed above.
In a large pan heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil and cook your pork over medium heat until no longer pink. Then push the meat to the side of the pan, add remaining tablespoon of oil and add chopped onion, celery, green bell pepper and garlic, cook for 5 minutes, stir in all the spices mentioned, salt and pepper and rice and fry while stirring for 2 minutes. Now add your stock, bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
Take the lid off and if the rice is too dry or burned to the bottom a bit add a splash of water (1/4 cup) and stir in your shrimp, cover with a lid and let it cook for 2 more minutes until shrimp turns pink. Taste if the rice is fully cooked. (If not, let it stand covered for 5 minutes, off the heat). Gently stir in sliced green onions. Voila. A beautiful Cajun dish is done!
This recipe was adapted from “Quick from scratch one dish meals cookbook”.
When I woke up this morning I didn’t plan to blog about salmon cakes, but I did plan to finally clean out my fridge and use up all the leftovers for lunch. If my mum taught me anything from when I was very little and impressionable that being frugal was definitely a virtue! I followed her instructions on how to use every part of a chicken (including the liver, often to my husbands horror and disgust) almost with a religious fervour when I was newly married, still a student and very poor and then… Brad and I got our first paying jobs. Slowly, the good housekeeping rules started to fly of the window. Nowadays I find myself coming back to my senses and saving a forgotten container of the mashed potatoes at the back of my fridge doesn’t seem like insanity, especially when it could be transformed into something completely different, exciting and delicious! Those were my thoughts when I spotted those potatoes and my brain immediately connected them with even more neglected cans of salmon in my cupboard that had stayed there for months. I realised those unappealing potatoes can definitely have their life stretched and neither I nor Brad (since no livers were involved) were disappointed.
This recipe is almost not even a recipe, it’s a “throw a bunch of ingredients you love together” kind of a recipe and, therefore, my favourite kind 🙂
For 8 salmon cakes:
- Potatoes -4-5 medium (I used 3 cups of mashed potatoes)
- Canned Salmon- 2 cans/450 gr
- Flour-1tbsp plus extra for dusting
- Dill- a small bunch
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
In a large mixing bowl combine mashed potatoes and salmon while making sure no skin or bones end up in there as well, and break an egg into it.
Zest your lemon.
Now on the scale of 1 to 10 how much do you love my new wooden zester/grater? I love it 14! A birthday present from my friend Angela. How beautiful is that! I am sure you will be seeing a lot of it in the future.
I just can’t get enough of this cute contraption but I promise to stop now.
Add the lemon zest to the mixture, juice the lemon and pour it in as well along with chopped dill and flour.
Mix everything well, add a pinch of each salt and pepper.
Divide the mixture into 8 golf-sized balls and roll them in the flour on your flour dusted board or plate, flatten them slightly to form a patty.
What I found worked the best (after the first one almost fell apart as I was frying it) was putting the mixture in the shape of a ball on the frying pan and then patting it down but not too flat. You can also refrigerate them for an hour to allow the mixture to firm up.
Fry 3 or 4 salmon cakes at a time in hot olive oil until golden and crunchy on the outside. Yum!
These salmon cakes are a delightful lunch option. When I called Brad for lunch the first thing he asked me if we had any tartar sauce to go with the salmon cakes. We didn’t and I was about to make some but then he took the first bite and announced, “Never mind, they are so flavourful, you don’t need any sauce with them!” I consider that a mark of success as Brad loves his sauces!
Note: You can prepare these salmon cakes with fresh salmon which I have done when best quality salmon was plentiful during our years on the West Coast of Canada. The taste is no doubt superior to the canned variety. Also you can cook the potatoes specifically for the recipe if you don’t have any leftovers. Boil potatoes until tender and mash them while still hot. Poach your fresh salmon or steam or bake, in other words, cook it any way you like it and then proceed with the recipe.
Alternatively you can use any type of fish you like or find at the back of your cupboard!