Classic Autumn Bolognese

Customer Appreciation Day: Saturday, 10/24

Japan is insane. I never tire of the culture, architecture, cleanliness, and above all, food. I have spent a decent amount of time there exploring the countryside for the weirdest bits of newness to try. Something I love about the country is they are predominantly a plant based society, almost always having salad and fermented vegetables with breakfast, and it’s great, because you never really feel weighed down afterwards. Another common comfort staple is congee, which is, from what I can imagine, is more or less leftover rice that is too dried out or perhaps overcooked and mushy. Either way, it gets pureed into a porridge, and is often served mild and savory. I would compare it to creamed wheat or wet grits. Whatever it’s called, it is damn good, and I loved making it. The dish is generally pretty mild like oatmeal, but I am a spicy broad, so I need my spice.Then of course I started thinking about gumbo and all those awesome cajun creole flavors then I was so wrapped up with cravings, I had to come up with this dish. 🙂
If you have ever had the Rainshadow CSA, you have likely seen purple celery in the basket. It is sort of odd, as there is hardly any of the ‘stalk’, which is what we are used to cooking with. It is almost all leaves, but I’m not into wasting, so I turned it into the base of the congee. Also the smell while cooking is just to die for (huge yum craveability) It somehow ends up pretty gosh darn great, so please give it a try, and I am sure you will enjoy this cajun twist on a traditional Japanese dish.

Cajun Congee with Crispy Bacon:
-serves 6

1 head purple celery and its leaves, roughly chopped
2 medium or one large sweet onion, rough diced
1 cup white rice
4 cups chicken stock
⅛ cup rice vinegar
1.5 lbs chicken thighs
16 oz roasted sweet corn (or one can in a pinch)
6 oz bacon, crisped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp cajun seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cholula, Tabasco, Frank’s Red Hot… or some spicy sauce that you like

  1. (Hint: this is suuuuuper easy in an instant pot, and I totally recommend having one anyway, because I use mine at least 200 times a year. Makes life so much easier)
Cook rice in a rice cooker or on the stove with all chicken stock, vinegar celery, onions and garlic. (It will be soupy)
    1. Puree with an immersion blender or food processor with cajun seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add spicy sauce to give a kick (optional)
    2. Return to the instant pot/rice cooker/stove and add whole chicken thighs. Simmer for 1.5 hours until the chicken will pull in the soup with a fork. Pull the chicken so it is dispersed evenly throughout the congee.
    3. Add roasted corn and simmer til everything is heavenly.
    4. Serve topped with crispy bacon and a few dashes of hot sauce.