Mystery House



Emergency Not-Quite Rice Pilaf

Mmmm, risotto.  It’s a nice thing to make.  The process of slowly stirring ladle after ladle of simmering broth into the rice is almost meditative.  You can drift away into a whole other world while you stir.  Plus, risotto is creamy, cheesy, decadent.  Everything I needed this week.  It’s been a week.  But what on earth does this have to do with rice pilaf?

Well, I had grand plans to try a recipe from Rice & Risotto and let you know how it was.  I had all the ingredients.  I’ve been cooking a great deal from the pantry and freezer this week, using up odd bits of this and that.  Too bad I didn’t realize my arborio was ancient.

Smelled stale.  Worse, there was a bug in it.  A bug.  And if there was a bug, there was bug poop.  I was not making bug poop risotto.  Into the compost bucket it went.

Arborio in Compost
Stale arborio doesn’t make good risotto, anyway.  It’s darn near impossible to get it to perform the arborio magic trick if it’s stale — the trick that makes the rice creamy and chewy at the same time — and then the whole point of the dish is lost.  So.  No risotto for me.  I had to make something else.  The M.E. was going to be home soon, hungry after a day of working in glorious corporate America battling braindead fools.

What could I make with the ingredients I had?  Pilaf!  But that, of course, wasn’t going to satisfy my risotto-tooth, so perhaps I could mess with it a bit.  That’s the best part about cooking — you can just do whatever tastes good.  Improvising like this, when something’s gone wrong, can be fun.

I cut up shallots and mushrooms.

MRC Shallots and Mushrooms

 

Sauteed the shallots in a little olive oil until they started to brown.  Then added a cup of basmati rice…

MRC Rice and Shallots in Pan

…and stirred the rice around until it was coated with oil.

I poured in a cup and a half of chicken broth plus a half cup of water.  (Sorry, no homemade stock today!)

MRC Chicken Broth

Then I covered the pan, brought it to a boil and turned it down to a simmer.

While the rice was cooking (it needs about 15 minutes–the halfway point is the perfect time to throw some pounded chicken breasts in the broiler), I sauteed the mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter.  You want to turn the flame up good and high here, and get a nice sear on the mushrooms.  This is one time I don’t worry about butter burning — no need to add oil — because mushrooms throw off so much water.

MRC Mushrooms Cooking

When the rice was maybe three or four minutes away from being done, I tossed in some frozen peas I’d defrosted, and covered the pan again.

MRC Peas Added to Rice
I added pepper, a goodly amount of dried thyme, and a little bit of salt. Not much salt.  Then when the rice was ready, I threw in the mushrooms, a tablespoon of butter, and — here’s the not-quite-pilaf part, the you can do anything you want part — grated parmesan cheese.  Quite a bit.  Stir like crazy, off the heat, till the cheese melts.

Yup.  Cheese.  Not a traditional pilaf ingredient.  But I was making it, and I wanted cheese.  So there.  This is why the dish doesn’t need much salt, heh.

And how was this odd love-child of pilaf and risotto?

MRC Not Quite Rice Pilaf

To quote the M.E. (who truly was sick of fools and in need of comfort food), “That’s fantastic!  I could eat the whole pan!”  ‘Twas rather good, if I do say so myself, even though it didn’t have that risotto creaminess I was craving.  So my friends, fear not a pantry containing stale, buggy arborio.  There’s always pilaf to be messed with.




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Comments

  1. * Lorette says:

    Cheese never hurts. Just like wine in cooking never hurts. That looks very good.

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  2. * cursingmama says:

    MMM – I love rice dishes…..looks yummy

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  3. * Chris says:

    Way to improvise – looks mighty tasty.

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  4. * Chris says:

    Way to improvise – looks mighty tasty.

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  5. * kmkat says:

    Mmmmmm!

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  6. * Cheryl S. says:

    Sounds great! I keep thinking about making risotto, but for some reason, I’ve just never tried it.

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  7. * Lisa says:

    I do the faux-Risotto all the time — that’s what Chicken Crack is, after all. I’ll add the liquid slowly, risotto-like, but it’s definitely more of a pilaf at heart. Good stuff, that.

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  8. * Lisa says:

    I do the faux-Risotto all the time — that’s what Chicken Crack is, after all. I’ll add the liquid slowly, risotto-like, but it’s definitely more of a pilaf at heart. Good stuff, that.

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  9. * bezzie says:

    That looks very good–and I must say I’m impressed with your on-hand rices. Basmati and (poopy) arborio? I’ve got brown rice, and brown rice!

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  10. * setembrina says:

    that does look yummy.
    hurray for quick fixes.

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  11. * Carrie K says:

    My dinner consisted of pineapple mousse and cheesecake. Yours looks so good and possibly more nutritious.
    Glad to read you mastered that recalcitrant circular cast on against all odds! Miss T – GAME.

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  12. * Carrie K says:

    My dinner consisted of pineapple mousse and cheesecake. Yours looks so good and possibly more nutritious.
    Glad to read you mastered that recalcitrant circular cast on against all odds! Miss T – GAME.

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  13. * mary lou says:

    Hmmm I’d better go throw away that aging Arborio rice.

    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago
  14. * Guinifer says:

    That Pilaf looks remarkably creamy and risotto-like.

    Posted 8 years, 11 months ago


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