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Wild Game Dirty Rice

wild game dirty rice

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Dirty rice is a traditional Cajun preparation, and it happens to be one of the best uses for giblets ever — especially to those who think they hate eating them. What makes the rice “dirty” is ground up gizzards and minced liver. And when I say “minced,” I really mean chopped almost into a puree. You really never know you’re eating giblets.

But this rice is roll-your-eyes-back-in-your-head good! I mean, really, really fantastic. Spicy, meaty, and richly flavored, dirty rice is a perfect side dish.

Do me a favor: If you don’t have any wild game giblets — because you don’t save them — make this recipe with regular chicken giblets. Please. Then come back and tell me how sorry you were for not saving the gizzards, hearts and livers of all those ducks or geese or pheasants you shot.

I most often use duck giblets for my dirty rice, but pheasant, grouse, wild turkey or really any game bird will do. You can even use the hearts, livers and kidneys from rabbits or squirrels. The only caveat is that small birds like teal or quail are really not worth cleaning the gizzards from. I mean you can if you want, but you get only a smidge of meat. Mallards and geese are ideal, as are wild turkeys and pheasants.

Serve this as a side dish to my “Empty-the-Freezer” gumbo and you’ll be in Cajun heaven!

Serves 4.

  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1 cup duck, pheasant or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons duck fat, butter or lard
  • 1/2 to 1 cup livers from pheasant, duck, goose or chicken
  • 1/2 to 1 pound ground gizzards or other ground meat
  • 2-3 jalapenos or 1 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 green onions
  • 1-2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning


  1. Cook the rice. Rinse the rice well and put in a pot with the duck broth and water, plus a little salt. Cook until done. Move the cooked rice to a sheet pan and lay it out to cool.
  2. If you are using gizzards, clean them of grit and that silver membrane and either chop fine or grind in a meat grinder. A meat grinder is better, but not everyone has one. Alternately, you can use any ground meat.
  3. While the rice is cooling, heat the duck fat over medium heat and, when it is hot, add the ground gizzards, jalapeno peppers, onion and celery and brown well. Take your time.
  4. Meanwhile, chop the livers very fine. It’ll almost be a puree.
  5. About halfway through the browning process, add the chopped liver and mix well. Let this cook for a minute or two. Sprinkle some salt over everything.
  6. If the pan gets sticky, add a little water or duck broth to loosen.
  7. Add the rice and a little water to the pan and stir to combine. Sprinkle in the Cajun seasoning. Turn the heat up to high and stir-fry this for 2 minutes, or until the rice is well coated and beginning to brown.
  8. Add the green onion, toss to combine and serve hot.

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14 responses to “Wild Game Dirty Rice”

  1. Dirty Rice/Rice Dressing and Pollo al Mattone (Tuscan Brick Chicken) / rice and wheat

    […] animal organs. Think of it as the perfect gateway dish into the world of offal – hey, Hank Shaw agrees with me here, so even if you don’t trust me, trust […]

  2. Reflections of a Real Food Challenge « Pages of Paradigm

    […] used the giblets from the ducks we butchered earlier in the week (which is another story) to make a wonderful version of dirty rice. Thursday afternoon I thawed and heated some winter onion soup from the freezer and that night for […]

  3. 6 Underappreciated cuts of Venison |

    […] classic dish and easy to make.  Salt Cured Liver is a good one and then there is the ever popular dirty rice. Liver can also make excellent additions to Andouille sausage […]

  4. Christian

    This is one reason why I quit hanging birds with guts in them. I found that if left the guts in for more than the day that the bird is killed the gizzards, livers, heart will start to take on a tainted taste of the intestines. I now gut birds either immediately or at the end of the hunting day and then stuff the cavity with a ball of wax paper then hang / age the fully feathered body.

  5. Andrew

    This past winter I killed my first deer. I ended up with many, many pounds of venison ground with bacon. This was the preferred method of butchering from the processor I took the game to.
    I was thinking of doing a dirty rice dish like you lay out above replacing the ground venison with the gibblets. Thoughts?

  6. 4 Foods and 1 Drink for Fat Tuesday |

    […] Wild Game Dirty Rice My personal version of rice dressing is a clean-out-the-freezer kind of recipe, but the more traditional take on this Cajun classic utilizes giblets, livers, and other offal. Hank Shaw has a pretty good version on his blog. […]

  7. Chris Beckstrom

    I know I’m late to the party… But I have three squirrels in the fridge (my first game ever!) along with three squirrel livers and a heart. Do you think those would work in this preparation as well?

  8. dave

    I have a full deer liver in the freezer. Could I make this recipe with that as only meat? If so, I presume thaw the liver then soak in salt water? Or some other procedure?

    Thank & can’t wait for the book!

  9. dave

    How about venison andouille and venison liver?

  10. Talia

    About to do this with a heart and liver my husband brought home last night. Yay deer!

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