Rice Pilaf

February 24, 2009

Perhaps the most significant staple foodstuff of the world’s human population, rice is the seed of a monocot plant Oryza sativa. Rice cultivars consist of two major subspecies: the sticky, short grained japonica or sinica variety, and the non-sticky, long-grained indica variety. Archeaological evidence suggests that rice was cultivated in China as long ago as 7,000 BC. Later, the widespread cultivation of rice was broadly introduced into Mesopotamia and what is now southwestern Iran in the 5th century BC—thus making rice available to the tables of Central Asia and the Middle East on an unprecedented scale. Pilaf is a dish in which a grain, such as rice, is lightly browned and then cooked in a seasoned broth…a staple in the world’s kitchens, including this one.

RICE PILAF

1 1/2 C long grain rice
1 T unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, peeled and minced
3 C chicken broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of dried thyme, crumbled between finger & thumb
1 bay leaf

Heat the butter in a small saucepan. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes on medium heat, stirring. The onion should only sweat, and not become brown. Add the rice and mix well, so that all grains are coated and they become somewhat translucent. Add the broth and the seasonings. Bring to a vigorous simmer, then cover tightly and cook for 20 minutes. Do not uncover the pan during the cooking process. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes, still covered. The rice is done when small dimples appear on the surface, sometimes called “fish eyes.” Discard bay leaf, fluff with a fork and serve.

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