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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Number 10: Boxing Room's Dirty Rice

Posted By on Tue, May 1, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Boxing Room's dirty rice. - IANN IVY
  • Iann Ivy
  • Boxing Room's dirty rice.
SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition


Boxing Room's chef, Justin Simoneaux, brings a California sensibility to traditional Cajun dishes -- fried oyster salad with arugula and fennel, gulf flounder with tasso and green garlic -- but for his dirty rice, he adheres strictly to his mother's recipe. 

Simoneaux grinds up pork, chicken gizzards, and livers, then cooks them down for so long the meat sticks to the pan before adding in onion, green pepper, and celery to saute, which is pretty much the opposite of classic French technique. "You've got to break all the rules when you cook Cajun food," he says. When the aromatics have sweated out their juices, in go the rice, herbs, spices, and stock. Then it cooks on the stove until the grains are fluffy, brown, and saturated with flavor.

There are dozens of versions of dirty rice around the Bay Area, at dozens of middling New Orleans restaurants, and none of them are as good as Simoneaux's. His dirty rice resembles an American biryani, a conflagration of seasonings -- a mélée between the caramelized meats and the thyme and garlic, the celery kicking up from the floor, green pepper and chile powder shouldering in to the brawl from the sides. In Indian and Pakistan, biryani is a feast-day dish; at Boxing Room, it's a $6 side.

Boxing Room, 399 Grove (at Gough), 430-6590,

Other favorites in this series:

11: Wing Wings' chicken salad biscuit

12: Pamonha de sal from Pamonha's

13: Kasa Indian Truck's gobi aloo kati roll

14: Delfina's trippa alla fiorentina

15: Truffled tater tots from Leatherneck Steakhouse
16: Baia Pasta's durum-wheat pastas

17: Z&Y's flaming fish with chile oil

18: Auntie April's fried catfish

19: None but the Brave from Heaven's Dog

20: Saha's vegan kibbeh

21: Starter Bakery's hazelnut kouign amann

22: Pupusas at Cafe and Restaurant Montecristo

23: 2 a.m. apple fritter at Bob's

24: Le Sanctuaire's vadouvan

25: Crab louis salad at Nettie's Crab Shack

26: Soy sauce chicken from Happy Bakery & Deli

27: Locanda's Jewish-style artichoke

28: Local: Mission Eatery's asparagus-egg sandwich

29: Memphis Minnie's 18-hour brisket

30: Custard buns from City View

31: Mission Chinese Food's kung pao pastrami

32: Panisse frites from Frances

33: Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi

34: Fatted Calf's chorizo

35: Silvanas from House of Silvanas

36: Linden Street Brewery's black lager

37: Aged oolongs from Red Blossom Tea Company

38: Broken Record's crawfish grits

39: Cebiche mixto from La Mar 

40: Nutella-hazelnut hand pie from Black Jet Baking Co.
41: Fifth Floor's burger
42: Perbacco's agnolotti dal plin
43: Iced coffee from Sightglass
44: Cypress Grove's Purple Haze Chevre
45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine
46: Duck with beets from AQ
47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi
48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 
49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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