Grandaddy's Dirty Rice
It is only appropriate to begin this blog series with the beginning of me. My earliest memories of food revolve around the kitchens of my grandparents. Their kitchens were a sacred place for me, as a young girl, to begin a journey with food that would last a lifetime.
In the beginning there was the land, shortly thereafter there was the Grandfather. The above line encapsulates the first chapter of one of my favorite novels, Run with the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams. No truer words could be spoken of my Paternal Grandfather Dolan Edward Brown Jr. He was larger than life especially to his grandchildren. He left behind a legacy of love for food, farming, and family.
Every Saturday Granddaddy loaded all of the Brown grandchildren who were old enough to sit up and feed themselves without assistance into his yellow four door Mercury Marquise and headed to one of our favorite lunchtime haunts. They were usually of the BBQ variety, Hook’s in Millen or Boyd’s ín Statesboro were two of our regulars. I don’t really remember the food we ate, but I do remember we laughed, sang, cried, cussed (Granddaddy, not the children), and otherwise had the time of our lives.
We did not always have to travel to find a good meal when we were with Granddaddy. He spent most of his time in what the Brown family still fondly calls the “Kitchen House”. Most folks would use the term Pond house or Club house, but not the Browns. After all, we all knew from a very young age the kitchen is the center of any home. The kitchen house always had the most distinct smell. It still does. The cedar walls are infused with the smells of years meals prepared there. The tang of vinegar and pickling spices, the unmistakable odor of caramelized onions, the sweet perfume of blackberry syrup, the smoky aroma of meat straight from the pit, the hint of muscadine wine fermenting in a wooden barrel welcome you at the door like an old friend.
What I would give to have one more of my Granddaddy’s kitchen house meals. The menu: chicken and dumplings, grilled pork sausage (fresh with a hint of black pepper and sage), cathead biscuits that commanded their very own bowl for sopping cane syrup, and fresh creamed corn from the garden. I can hear the plink, plink of the big wheel on the Price is Right, the creak and groan of Granddaddy’s indoor hammock, the pop and sizzle of frying fat back, and the peal of the dinner bell as it called us together. The meal was prayed over always ending with, “…. this food to the nourishment of our bodies and us to thy service” and we were blessed to have been a part.
A recipe can remind us of a moment in time. A smell, a taste, a sound can take us immediately back but mostly it is our love for one another that makes each ingredient so dear to our hearts. I promise not to be so nostalgic in future posts, but the value of a truly wonderful recipe is in the eye and heart of the beholder. I have no original recipes hand written by Granddaddy. The recipes provided here are my adaptations of dishes prepared by Granddaddy or any number of family members as his recipes are now our recipes.
Dolan Edward Brown JR.
Grandaddy and later my Uncle Mark always cook dirty rice for a crowd of hungry farmers, the Baptist mens’ brotherhood, or family dove shoots at the farm. This recipe feeds a pile of folks(20-30 grown men), but if you cook it I promise somebody will eat!
Dirty Rice Recipe
1 c Diced Onion
1 c Diced Celery
1c Diced Bell Pepper
4 c Sliced Mushrooms
2 sticks Butter
5 cans Campbell’s Beef Consume
5 cans Campbell’s French Onion Soup
5 c Rice
2 lbs Ground Sausage
2 lbs Kielbasa Sausage
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 2 sticks of butter in 12 quart casserole dish. Place in preheated oven until butter is melted. Remove from oven and pour both soups into casserole dish. Use soup can to measure 5 cans full of rice. Pour rice into casserole dish, and stir to distribute rice evenly. Cover dish tightly with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove of foil and stir. Replace foil and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes until all liquid is absorbed and rice is fully cooked.
While rice is cooking place onion, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms, ground sausage, and kielbasa sausage into pot. Cook until sausage is fully cooked. Do not drain.
When rice is done. Remove from the oven and remove foil. Add sausage and veggie mixture to rice and stir to combine. Serve immediately.