Rice Pilaf – Getting it Right

For years, every time I tried to make a rice pilaf I ended up with a gooey mess, until I discovered a recipe with the secret.  Whether you use white or brown rice, do not cook the nuts and fruit with the rice. I generally sauté a bit of onion to be cooked with the rice and add dried fruit, toasted nuts and maybe some minced parsley to the finished rice. Et voila, no more gummy rice with soggy nuts.

Per 1 cup of uncooked rice
½ cup chopped onion or shallot
Oil for sautéing onion or shallot
1 ¾ cup liquid, water or stock*
¼ cup raw nuts of your choice
½ cup dried fruit of your choice, chopped to raisin size pieces
2 T minced parsley (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking the Rice
Heat a bit of oil over medium-high heat in a sauce pan with a tight fitting lid for cooking the rice. Add the onion or shallot and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Sauté for about a minute longer stirring constantly. Add the liquid and bring to a boil. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook about 20 minutes for most white rice and about 45 minutes for brown. While the rice is cooking prepare the dried fruit and toasted nuts.

Dried Fruit
Soak the dried fruit in hot water while you toast the nuts, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Toasting the Nuts
Toast the nuts in a small skillet over medium-high heat, about 3-5 minutes shaking the pan frequently. Be careful; nuts burn fast. When browned remove the nuts from the hot pan immediately. Let cool and chop.

Finishing the Rice
When the rice has finished cooking, turn off the heat and place a clean dish towel under the lid to absorb excess moisture. Let sit about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add the nuts, fruit, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir carefully to evenly distribute. Don’t overwork the rice. Correct the seasoning and serve.

*Recipes often call for a 2 to 1 ratio of liquid to uncooked rice resulting in gummy rice. Use a little less water, 1 ¾ to 1 ratio, for dryer, fluffier rice.

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