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Rice Pilaf

I don’t eat a lot of rice, and I’m not sure why, but maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up eating a lot of rice? One thing I did eat a lot of and love as a child, though, is rice pilaf. You know, the stuff in a box with rice, orzo, and the seasoning packet? Delicious! I’ll let you in on a secret that I learned only a few months ago: that’s not real rice pilaf. WHAT!? Yes, that’s right. From what I understand, “real” rice pilaf starts with some sautéed onions and other flavorings, then the rice is added, and then some stock/broth until the rice is cooked. Wikipedia has more details, as I am clearly not an expert. All I know is that now I want to eat more rice. This is a simple, delicious addition to a meal, and doesn’t take much longer than just making plain rice. You’re welcome.

I also saw a woman in Guatemala make rice essentially the same way, but she fried some chopped onion and tomato in oil, added the rice, then water and plenty of salt. While she didn’t use stock or broth, it was still an eye-opening experience and a new way to cook rice. Here is Leticia, making tortillas, chicken stew, and rice in the jungle:

Hypothesis: You might never make “plain” rice again.

Materials (for what is pictured):

  • 1 medium white onion
  • 2 coves garlic
  • 2 packets of beef stock concentrate
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 4-5 cups hot water
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools:

  • Knife and cutting board
  • Measuring cups
  • Large skillet with lid
  • Spoon

Method:

Yes I store my rice in a Fluff jar. Don’t you?

Dice onion to medium chunks and garlic to small. You can certainly change the sizes of these depending on preferences. Heat skillet over medium heat, then add butter and olive oil (or all butter, all oil, etc). When hot, add onion and sauté until soft. Add garlic, cooking for another minute before adding the rice.

Sautee onion + garlic

Stir the rice to coat in oil/butter, then cook for a few minutes to toast the grains.

Prepare the stock by diluting with hot water (mine was one packet for one cup water, so I had 2 cups stock total). Add the stock to the pan, and be careful of splattering. You can add salt and pepper now too, and cover the pot after stirring. Turn the heat down so that the liquid is simmering but not boiling.

You can either start a timer now based on your rice directions, or just let it cook for a while – whatever you’re comfortable with. You’ll need to add more water though, so add more as needed. You could also add more stock, but there comes a point where there’s too much flavor, so I stuck with 2 cups stock and the rest water. Cook until rice is tender, then season again with salt and pepper if needed. Leftovers make a really good fried rice (that’s what we did anyway!).

Observations:

  • This recipe is infinitely adaptable – amounts of everything can be changed. It’s so versatile and easy and will soon become a staple.
  • Flavorings can be changed as well, so use whatever stock you have (chicken, veggie, etc), whatever rice you like best (short grain, wild, brown, etc), and any other flavorings you’d like (fresh or dried herbs, nuts, even cheese if you want). I used beef stock because we were having grilled steak.
  • Different rice varieties need more or less liquid and different cooking times so adjust as necessary.

Conclusions:

Friends don’t let friends eat bland rice. Make this!

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