About Rice and Gravy
Cooking a delicious Cajun Rice and Gravy is a skill learned by generations of cooks passing their techniques down to their children.
There are lots of different Cajun Rice and Gravy recipes out there on the web. Most of them are obviously written by Non-Cajuns; and if you are a Cajun, you can spot those recipes right away! There is only one kind of Cajun Rice and Gravy Recipe…. Period…. You can cook a Cajun Rice and Gravy using several types of meat such as beef, pork, chicken or even sausage. Whichever meat you choose, the recipe is the same; and how you brown the meat is different depending on the type of meat you are using. We will discuss that later in this blog.
People in the south grow up eating Rice and Gravy. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor; everyone eats rice and gravy. It’s served over Louisiana’s prime agricultural crop: white rice. We all ate Rice and Gravy at least a couple of times a week for lunch or for dinner while growing up. It was a staple in our home.
To prepare the dish properly requires a lot of time, patience, and love. I remember growing up learning exactly how to cook a rice and gravy; yet when it was complete, it still wasn’t like Momma’s or Grandma’s. The reason? I cooked mine on a “rolling boil” and rushed it; while the old Cajun ladies took their time. They proved it over and over again that their way was better; until I finally realized if I wanted fabulous rice and gravy, I had to do it the way Momma showed me.
If you’re cooking a beef or pork roast, you’ll usually cut slits in the roast and stuff more seasoning in there too! The video above shows you exactly how to make the slits and it is also explained below. Making a Rice and Gravy is basically a 3-step process. If you rush any of the processes listed below; it won’t turn out perfect.
- Brown the Meat
- Saute the Holy Trinity
- Cook the Meat till its very tender
Rice and Gravy isn’t on most restaurant menus; however, you might find it at any small Cajun diner that serves plate lunches. It’s a traditional Cajun dish, with its roots in rural south Louisiana and to make it correctly demands a slow braise. Beef or Pork roast is the most common rice and gravy starter; while 7 steaks, round steaks or chuck steaks are common too!
- Vegetable or Olive oil
- 4 pound Chuck Roast (Any of the meats listed above is ok)
- 1 very large onion or 2 medium onions
- 1 bell pepper
- 2 ribs celery
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- Cooked White Rice
- OPTIONAL – 1/2 can Diced Tomatoes with Green Chili Peppers (not part of the Authentic Cajun Recipe)
Begin by washing your roast (or any meat listed above) and setting it on a cutting board. Then season it really good with salt and your authentic Cajun Seasoning of choice.
Chop all vegetables listed above very small. In a bowl, add the vegetables and season it with salt and Cajun Seasoning. If you’re cooking a roast, use this mixture to stuff your roast. Cut diagonal slits in the roast and stuff the seasoned vegetables in the slits.
The video above shows you how to cut the diagonal slits.
Browning the Meat:
Pour about 1/2 inch cooking oil in the bottom of the pot. When the oil is hot, add meat and brown the meat, allowing crust (we call this brown stuff ‘grah-doo’) to form on the bottom of the pot. Take your time with the fire on medium-high; this is key for a rich, dark gravy. At first, all you will see is your steak boiling in juices. That’s fine. You’ll have to cook off the juices before you get a nice crust in your pot.
It will take some time, approximately a half hour. Stir while browning the meat. You want it brown, but not burnt. Once you’ve got some crust (Grah-doo) forming, add a little water (enough to cover the bottom of the pot), scrape the crust with the flat edge of a spatula or cooking spoon, and cook down even more, while evaporating the water. Brown to get crusty spots to form on your pot again, add water, scrape the pot, cook the water away again. Same deal as before. Repeat this process a few times. It will help make your gravy darker in the end.
I like to repeat this process about 4 times; this will ensure a deep dark beautiful brown gravy. You should take the time to do it right too!
Cooking the Holy Trinity
After the meat is browned, it’s time to focus on the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity consists of diced Onion, Bell Pepper & Celery. Some Cajuns add minced garlic to the mix.
Hint… You’ll want to dice the Holy Trinity as small as you can. This cuts down on cooking time and allows the vegetables to puree or decompose quicker in the pot.
Leave the meat in the pot, then add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; then saute for about 45 minutes in the brownings. Occasionally, you may have to add a little bit of water to the bottom of the pot to lift the brownish stuff from the bottom of the pot or to keep the onions from burning. Keep your lid on your pot while cooking because it makes the water leave the vegetables sooner and helps with the cooking process.
Tenderizing the Meat:
Add enough water to cover the meat and basically boil the meat until tender; if you are cooking a roast, add the water halfway up the meat. This takes a while for certain cuts of meat. Example: a round steak will take longer to cook than 7 Steaks. Another example is a Rump Roast, which will take longer than a Chuck Roast.
Continue to cook the meat for at least an hour; or until tender. If your roast is thicker, it will take longer to cook.
HINT: Don’t tress out! Remember your meat will get tough, then it will tenderize.
When you are satisfied with the tenderness of the meat, reduce the water (boil the gravy and let it evaporate to the consistency you want) to make a thicker gravy.
Cutting the Meat After It is Cooked and Serving:
Although this seems a little backward, cook your steaks or your roast whole and wait to cut the meats when it is completely tender and ready to serve.
Steaks – Remove from the pot and cut it into 2- to 3-inch pieces and return to the brown gravy.
Roasts – Remove from the pot and slice into 1/2 slices AGAINST THE GRAIN. You’ll see small chunks of the Holy Trinity stuffing fall from the roast, but that is ok. It will settle in the gravy.
Cajuns always Serve Rice and Gravy with Petite Pois (small early peas), Corn Maque Choux (Cajun Homemade Corn dish), Black Eye Peas, String Beans or Butter Beans (Lima Beans).
Tips on Making a Great Rice and Gravy that Most Cajuns Already Know
If you’re a Cajun, then you already know these tips for making a Rice and Gravy, but if you’re not…. then you’ll want to know these simple tips.
Tips for cooking with the Holy Trinity are helpful too!