Sunday, February 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Daddy!

It's been a while since I've been able to blog...and my dad has noticed. So here is a special post for his birthday. Yesterday was also a big wedding anniversary for my parents...28 years! In honor of the weekend festivities, I'm going to start this post with a recipe suggested by my mom. I wanted to make a finger food for our Mardi Gras party and she did some googling for me. These were a huge success! I used an Emeril recipe for guidance and made my own adjustments along the way.

Dirty Rice Balls

Vegetable oil. 2 tbsp + 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour. 1 lb hamburger meat. 1 lb spicy sausage. 1 onion, chopped. 1 bell pepper, chopped. 2 stalks celery, chopped. 1 tbsp minced garlic. 1/4 cup Tony's. pinch cayenne pepper. pinch file powder. 2 cups chicken broth. 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves. 1/2 cup green onions, chopped. 4 cups cooked rice. 2 eggs. 1/4 cup milk. 3 cups dried fine bread crumbs. extra oil for frying. dipping sauce.

This recipe can be time consuming, but is actually pretty simple. You start by making the Dirty Rice. I made ours the night before the party so it could chill over night. In a saucepan, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat and whisk in 2 tbsp flour to make a roux. Cook, whisking constantly, until roux thickens and darkens. Don't let it burn! When it is dark, add the sausage and cook until browned. We cooked the hamburger in a different skillet and added it later. Once the sausage is done cooking, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Saute until tender. Add the garlic, 2 tsp Tony's, cayenne, and file and cook for 2 minutes. Add the hamburger, 2 cups chicken broth, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the parsley, green onions, and rice. Mix gently and thoroughly. Transfer to a bowl and chill until cool.

Once the mixture is completely chilled, form the mixture into balls. Emeril suggest 2 tbsp per ball, but those end up pretty big. You can adjust your size depending on how big you want them. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Mix the flour and 4 tsp Tony's in a shallow bowl. Mix eggs and milk in a second shallow bowl. Mix bread crumbs and 2 tbsp Tony's in a third bowl. Carefully coat each ball, first in the flour mixture, then the egg wash, and then in the bread crumbs. Make sure the balls are coated evenly and shake to remove excess coating. Place them back on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Coat all balls before frying.

If you have a deep-dryer, then frying these up will be simple. We do not have a deep fryer, so we used a small pot and vegetable oil. You want enough oil in the pot to coat the balls. The next part is trial and error. If the oil gets to hot, the balls will have to be removed immediately to avoid burning and the mixture inside will not have a chance to heat up. The knob for our burner ended up around medium. For a dipping sauce, I made a ranch dip using sour cream and ranch dressing mix.

Emeril actually calls for chicken gizzards and livers and ground pork. I think any 2 lbs of meat you want to use would be fine. We also served chicken and shrimp jambalaya..which is why I chose pork and hamburger for the Dirty Rice.

The Mardi Gras party was quite the success. I'll post pictures later this week. And the King Cakes I had delivered from New Orleans....lasted less than 48 hours:)

I am about to start my first sewing project...but I have to keep it a secret. It happens to be a gift and I don't want to spoil it. I'll post pictures when I can. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

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