food that moves and connects us.

welcome to my collection of recipes, how-to’s + food experiments for the curious home cook.

m e n u


recipe index

about Mobile Soul

contact us

Mobile Soul Marketplace (s h o p)

looking for something in particular? try searching here.

overhead shot of creamy creole dirty risotto with ingredients and spoon

Creamy Creole ‘Dirty’ Risotto

What is now widely considered a popular side dish was, at its origin, rice combined with ground meats and other less desirable cuts to create a dish which aided survival. Pair historically bold Southern flavors with the delicate process of creating a ‘dirty’ risotto for a dish that’s good enough as a side or as the star of the show.

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Bacon
  • Andouille sausage (or spicy Italian sausage, removed from the casing)
  • Yellow onion
  • Green onion
  • Celery
  • Bell pepper (green and/or red)
  • Garlic
  • White button mushrooms
  • Rice (medium- or long-grain rice or Arborio rice will work fun, but more broth may be necessary for long-grain rice to finish cooking through)
  • Dry white wine (for cooking)
  • Dried thyme
  • Chicken broth
  • Cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
  • Freshly grated parmesan
  • Fresh parsley
overhead shot of creamy creole dirty risotto ingredients prep

Equipment you’ll need

  • Medium saucepan or pot (for simmering broth)
  • Large skillet/saucepan
  • Measuring cup or ladle
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Rubber spatula or wooden spoon

How to make the dirty risotto

Prepping the ingredients

Taking the time to prep your vegetables and measure out the liquids will save you a bunch of stress when preparing this recipe. Because the ingredients need to cook down evenly and relatively quickly, make sure your dicing is as consistent as you can manage. Improving your knife skills takes a lot of time and practice, so don’t be too frustrated if everything isn’t perfect.

Chop the bacon into thin slices and slice the andouille sausage into 1/4″ thick rounds, first, and then quarters. Dice the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and bell peppers. Thinly slice the celery and green onion, separating the white parts from the green. Measure out rice and keep this in a bowl near the stove. Pour 6 cups of chicken broth into a small pot to simmer. Pour 1/2 cup of dry white wine into a cup or bowl. Grate at least 1/2 cup of parmesan into another small bowl. Now you’re ready to start cooking.

Building flavor in layers

Starting with smoked meats like bacon and andouille sausage immediately brings flavor to the dish. They also create the grease that will help all the other ingredients cook. Add yellow onion, white parts of the green onion, celery, and bell pepper over medium heat, and cook until they are tender. Add garlic and mushrooms next because they take less time to soften and you don’t want the garlic to burn.

Starting dishes in this manner – with oil, smoked meats, onion, celery & bell pepper is the foundation to a lot of Southern (specifically, Creole) cooking. As far as seasonings, this recipe only calls for thyme and red pepper flakes, if you choose, because all the flavor you need is already coming from the meat, sauteed vegetables, wine & broth.

creamy creole dirty risotto in pan cooking
Andouille sausage, bacon, onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, mushroom & rice ready to be stirred in

Turning rice into risotto

The difference between rice and risotto is (1) the cooking technique and (2) the addition of acidity from the wine or lemon/lime juice if you don’t use wine. After the meat and vegetables have cooked and are browning, add the rice to the pan and stir it in. Coat it with all of the tasty flavors you’ve been developing in the pan then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, add the white wine into the pan and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes or until the wine has almost evaporated.

After this point, you’ll pretty much be stirring until the risotto is finished. Add about half a cup to the pan and stir until it has almost evaporated. Repeat this with all of the broth, until all of the grains are cooked evenly but still have a little bite, about 40 minutes. Add dried thyme, parsley, and parmesan to the pan about halfway through. It’s important to keep an eye on the moisture level and to stir constantly to make sure all of the rice is coming in contact with the warm broth and cooking over time.

Once the risotto has finished cooking, add salt & pepper, to taste. Garnish by adding more parmesan, fresh parsley, and/or red pepper flakes.

Origins of dirty rice

The dishes that I’m most familiar with making have origins in the cuisines of enslaved Africans across the American South. I’ve always been interested in the blended history of the foods that I grew up eating, but after reading The Cooking Gene, it became even more important for me to understand and acknowledge the combination of influences more specifically.

Dirty rice was developed and perfected in New Orleans, Louisiana right along with gumbo, jambalaya, and po’boys. Just typing that sentence has my mouth watering. The food is seriously good and a perfect example of cultures and ingredients coming together to create magic. French, French-Canadian, West African, Native American, and Spanish influences all collide in Louisiana. The harsh nature of slavery and astounding creativity of enslaved Africans brought together dishes that are still some of America’s favorites.

The “dirty” in the name comes from the color of the rice after being mixed with the cooked-down chicken and pork gizzards. Even after being tweaked and re-interpreted by home cooks and chefs for the last few centuries, dishes like dirty rice are just as comforting to me as I imagine they were to the ancestors who depended on them for survival.

This dirty risotto recipe is my attempt at infusing yet another cuisine into the mix: Italian. I’ve been watching Chef Gordon Ramsay curse out chefs for ruining risotto for more than half of my life. The many blow-ups from Hell’s Kitchen were playing on a loop in my head during the last 30 minutes of making it the first time, but I must say, I think Chef Ramsay would approve.

creamy creole dirty risotto pinterest image


cropped view of creamy creole dirty risotto with spoon

Creamy Creole Dirty Risotto

A little Italian-classic mushroom risotto. A little Southern-staple dirty rice.
Be the first to rate this recipe!
Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Fusion, Italian, Soul Food
Keyword: Creole, Rice, Risotto
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Lena B.
Cost: $30


  • Medium pot
  • Large skillet or saucepan
  • Measuring cup or ladle
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Rubber spatula or wooden spoon


  • 5-6 cups reduced- or no-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ounce thick-cut bacon, chopped into pieces
  • 5 ounces andouille sausage, sliced and quartered
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced with white and green parts separated
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 ounces white button mushrooms, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white, cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or one whole sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


  • In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep warm over low heat.
  • In a large skillet, over medium heat, add bacon and sausage. Saute until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, white parts of the green onion, celery, bell pepper, and cook until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until tender, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, about 3 more minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated for about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, and allowing each addition of broth to absorb almost completely before adding the more. Repeat this process until the rice is tender and the mixture is creamy about 35 to 40 minutes total. About halfway through, add dried thyme. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 3/4 of the Parmesan. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl. Sprinkle the parsley and remaining Parmesan and serve immediately.


  • Pair with roasted chicken, salmon, sauteed or grilled shrimp, scallops, steak, or any of your favorite roasted or grilled vegetables.
  • Additional garnishes: fresh lemon juice, red pepper flakes


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating