We Cajuns like our rice and gravy the way our Momma’s serve it. With a dark gravy, really dark, over a pile of white rice is what I mean. And if every grain of rice is covered, then she’s really good at it!
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For The Love Of Rice And Gravy
You may think you know gravy, but chances are if you haven’t been raised Cajun you don’t know it like we do. Our experiences are from eating rice day in and day out. The gravy on it may not have been made with beef every time, but whichever way our mommas could serve it up, they did it!
Rice has always been plentiful in Acadiana. It’s what many Cajuns farmed right along with cattle. Therefore, rice and gravy was a convenient way to fill their families’ bellies. This gravy was made by bringing the meat (beef, pork, or chicken) to an almost fatal burn. Water was then added to simmer the meat until tender ending with a rich, flavorful gravy.
Another way we enjoy eating our beloved and plentiful rice are with seafood dishes. With an abundance of fish and shellfish, Cajuns have developed many seafood recipes pairing well with their beloved rice. Recipes like Crawfish Etouffee, Shrimp Okra Gumbo, and Seafood Gumbo are to name a few.
This is an easy way I like to fix rice and gravy. You can use pork, chicken, or even fresh sausage to make gravy for rice, but today I’ll show you how with a chuck roast. I usually double this recipe making enough to feed my family for Sunday Dinner.
Next, stuff the chuck roast by cutting small crosses into the meat. The cut of chuck from beef has always given me flavorful results. It is economical and has just enough fat to make a tender roast. If time permits I like to season and stuff the meat the day before ensuring the best results. This may also cut down on cooking time because the marinating process tenderizes the beef as it sits in the refrigerator.
You can stuff the roast with a spoonful of finely chopped herbs and vegetables or use a dried product like Zydeco Chop Chop. To rehydrate, just add the same amount of water as the dried veggies and herbs and let them sit for a few minutes. The dried product is packed with concentrated flavor and saves time from all of that chopping. Chop Chop does it for you!
Another stuffing choice are whole pieces of garlic cloves. Slide them into the slits of meat after whacking them with a wide knife blade to release their flavor. If you like garlic, you’ll enjoy biting into these sweet garlic pieces. Whichever stuffing you choose, it will flavor this dish beautifully!
Next, brown the roast really well in hot oil, add water, and simmer slowly until it’s tender. Don’t hurry the process! While it cooks you can prepare the rest of the meal. Or ladies, there’s time to put your lipstick on before company arrives. That’s what my Mamaw Greene always said, “Now, go put ya’ lipstick on!”
Check the roast during cooking to see if additional water is needed. Add a little at a time making sure not to dilute the flavorful juices. You may thicken the gravy with a water and cornstarch or flour mixture, but that’s not how my momma ever treated her gravy. To each his own!
Potatoes, carrots, and celery can be cooked with the meat to serve as a side dish. It also adds more flavor to the dish. Add them to the pot after the meat is tender and simmer together until the vegetables are cooked.
The secret to a good gravy is to give the meat a generous seasoning, stuff it with chopped herbs and veggies, and then brown it until it’s very dark, stopping just before it burns. Next, add plenty of water to slow cook until fork tender making a flavorful gravy to be ladled over a mound of cooked rice.
2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 3-pound chuck roast
salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste or use your favorite Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup dried herbs and vegetable (such as Zydeco Chop Chop) rehydrated in 1/4 cup water or 1/3 cup fresh herbs and vegetables (such as onion, celery, garlic, peppers, and parsley), finely chopped
4 cups water or more
4 small potatoes, cut in half, optional
4 carrots, cut in pieces, optional
1 celery stalk, cut in pieces, optional
Season roast generously then cut slits into it and stuff with the herbs and vegetables.
Pour oil into a large, heavy pot and heat until hot.
Place roast into the hot oil and brown on both sides until very dark, almost burning it leaving dark drippings in the pot.
Add 4 cups of water or enough to cover the top of the roast.
Bring to a boil then turn the heat down and cover the pot to slowly simmer the roast for about 2 hours, checking to see if adding more water is needed.
The meat and gravy are ready to serve or add potatoes, carrots, and celery to the top of the roast and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, about a half hour.
Whole crushed garlic cloves can be used alone to stuff the roast instead of the herbs and vegetables.
Let meat marinate in the refrigerator overnight after seasoning and stuffing for a more flavorful roast and easier prep time before your meal.
The secret to a good gravy is browning the meat as dark as you can get it.
After cooking, the gravy should be dark and flavorful if it’s too thin from adding too much water then cook down the juices by itself until it’s slightly thickened.
Gravy may be thickened more with a little water and corn starch (or flour) mixture but isn’t necessary if it’s done correctly.
Keywords: rice and gravy
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