Thursday, December 2, 2010

Basmati Rice

Rice has long been a favorite dish, but the cooking has always been a challenge. Often I get starchy rice that clumps or undercooked rice that was hiding from my tasting spoon when I was checking on doneness. Ida Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, suggested this recipe and so far it's come out perfect every time! Of course it's slightly different than hers, but it really is mostly hers.

  • One cup of Basmati Rice
  • One small onion finely diced
  • 1 3/4 cups of water
  • 1 Tbs of unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp of kosher salt


  • Cook the butter and onions over medium heat in a saucepan until translucent, Do not allow them to fry.
  • Add the rice and toss until all of the grains are coated with the butter.
  • Add the water and salt, cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, it should take about 15 - 20 minutes.
  • Kill the heat and let it sit covered for at least 5 minutes, 10 is better. Don't be tempted to open the lid, just leave it alone.

Right now you have a great tasting dish, albeit a little plain. There are times this is exactly what I want. Now The Barefoot Contessa liked to add 1/4 cup of chopped scallions and 2 Tbs of chopped parsley. That is great, but the reality is you can put just about anything you want in here.

My preference is to tie in the flavors used in whatever main dish I am serving. For example with my Orange Marinated Flank Steak, I like using the zest of one orange. If you do something like add orange juice to the cooking liquid, or orange supremes, you will make it too 'orangey', but the zest adds a nice touch and compliments the main course. Rosemary or thyme are also great additions. A little cumin can really change the flavor and goes well with pork dishes. So what I am really saying is don't be afraid to experiment.

For example I once did a braised pork shoulder and the braising liquid was apple juice and sage. I added a small bit of diced apple and some chopped sage to a small amount of rice to check the flavor. The apple browned, which was a turn off, but the sage tasted great. So when I served the dish I had added a few sage leaves chopped fine and just a little bit of apple juice. So take a little rice and test your thoughts out before you assemble the final dish. Trust me, creativity tastes better than you might think!

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