(KERI) How is it possible that a pile of little white grains can be so intimidating?
As I surfed my favorite food blog this weekend, I was reminded just how utterly frightful rice can be. Even Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen says so and she’s not afraid of anything. I mean, to turn those hard little bits into the perfectly cooked morsel – not too soft, not too hard – is perhaps as tall of a task as skiing down a mountain for the first time. If you don’t fall, you raise your arms in victory: I AM AMAZING! It’s the same smell of success for foodies when we produce our first perfectly bloomed batch of rice. You know you’ve hit it when you lift the lid, insert fluffing fork, see no remaining liquid and nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan. “YES, I DID,” you scream!
What’s more, the topic of rice somehow makes every consumer of it an expert. ‘Everything is great, but the rice is a liiiiittle undercooked.’ You know those critics. They likely reside at your same address. ‘This is amazing…and…the rice is just a tad gummy.’ Are you with me? It’s irksome, I know.
I don’t remember rice before this recipe. I don’t think I made it much. How could that be, what with rice being the #1 staple side dish and all? I’m sure I made several batches that ended up in the trash and just gave up. But here it is: The Only Rice Recipe You Need. It comes out absolutely on point every single time. No extra moisture looming to laugh at you as you pop the lid. Not a single grain requires strong-arm scraping to relieve it from the bottom of the pan. Kitty-cat purrr-fect, I say. And it’s so versatile. The recipe, from Ina Garten, calls for the addition of lots of fresh herbs and punchy scallions. What’s more perfect than this as a partner to roasted chicken (yes, those are roasted potatoes because who can have too much carb in one sitting)?
Or how about sesame chicken drumsticks?
With the rice as your canvas, you can come up with endless variations for whatever you’re serving. For example:
– Replace 1/4 cup of water with 1/4 cup of lime juice. Add the zest of one lime and some cilantro for your Mexican fare.
– Replace 3/4 cup of water with 3/4 cup of coconut milk. Add toasted coconut shreds and almonds for an accompaniment to Jamaican jerk chicken.
– Add 1 teaspoon of curry and 1 cup of peas apres cooking for Indian feasts.
The list goes on and on. How will you experiment? Where to begin!?
I gave Marina 30 seconds to name her favorite rice dishes. Here’s what she and friend Maddi (author of Best Burgers Blog on FB) came up with (just to get your creative grains flowing):
Rice and bean burritos
So rice – we’re not scared of you. Bring your bad self here and let us all take you on with The Only Rice Recipe We Need.
1 cup uncooked long-grain white basmati rice
1 3/4 cups water
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill leaves
2 scallions, minced, white and green parts
Pinch freshly ground black
Combine the rice, water, salt, and butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to low, stir once, and simmer on very low heat, covered tightly, for 15 minutes. (Watch the pan at first – it may boil up a bit. It’s just trying to scare you.) Turn off the heat, remove the pan from the burner and allow the rice to sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add the parsley, dill, scallions, and pepper. Perfection.