Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rice Pilaf (aka Rice-A-Roni)

I know what you're saying. Rice-A-Roni? Really Lesley?

Feel free to call it Rice Pilaf if it makes you feel better. That's what I call it when I fix it for someone so that they too aren't turned off (without reason) by the name Rice-A-Roni.

I probably shouldn't be calling it that anyway, I'm sure it's a licensed trademark something or other. So let me say this is, by no means is this meant to be the original Rice-A-Roni brand or lead anyone to believe that it is. No Roni's were harmed in the making of this dish, except the tender one's. (Insert gong here...hello, is this thing on?) You probably only understand that if you are a child of the early 90's & were a Bobby Brown fan.

Rice Pilaf, aka Rice-A-Roni, the southern Alabama treat used to be one of my favorite things my Grandma fixed. She was the only person that would fix it & she usually did this because she knew I liked it so much. My sweet Grandma was a jewel & I miss her terribly. I also miss Rice-A-Roni which is one of the reasons why I came up with this recipe. The other reason is because I try to stay away from boxed, semi-prepared food. From scratch can be just as easy & taste much better.

So here we go.

Pour a little canola oil & a healthy tablespoon of butter into a pan over medium-high heat.

Chop a medium-sized onion & add to the butter & oil.

Saute onion until it's just transluscent & almost done.

Throw in a cup of Arborio rice & a cup of broken up vermicelli. Arborio works really well for this recipe. It has a great texture & flavor & can be found with the long grain rice in any grocery store. For the vermicelli I literally broke it up into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. It didn't take as long as it sounds like it would & trying to cut it with a knife or kitchen shears doesn't work & makes a mess. Just bite the bullet & start breaking.

You're going to saute the rice & pasta for about 8 minutes or until the vermicelli starts turning slightly golden brown. Some pieces may get more brown, that's okay it will taste just as good. The longer you saute it the less likely it will get starchy when you add the liquid to simmer it.

Now add about 2 cups of chicken broth & stir well. Cover this, reduce your heat & let this simmer for 20 minutes. I start with 2 cups & often times have to add more until the rice & pasta are done.

While your rice is simmering grab some italian parsley or flat-leaf parsley. Italian parsley has a ton more flavor than regular parsley & gives anything you add it to alot of fresh herby (is that a word?) flavor.

Give the parsley a rough chop.

Check your rice & pasta, it should be done but not sticky. If it's not to your desired doneness but the liquid is absorbed add a little more broth, cover & simmer a little longer. Be sure to keep an eye on it, again it should not be sticky or starchy but done.

Add your parsley & stir well. This is where I realized I did not take a picture of it after I stirred it up.

Just imagine this same picture but with the rice pilaf aka rice-a-roni mixed up. Mmmm, doesn't it look delicious?

So now you get the finished product where I garnished it with more parsley.

This makes a great side dish for almost anything. Hope you enjoy!

Rice Pilaf

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 med. onion, diced
1 cup of arborio rice
1 cup of vermicelli broken into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces
2-3 cups of chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh chopped italian parsley

Heat oil & butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once butter has melted add onion & cook until transculcent. Add rice & pasta. Saute until pasta becomes golden brown, continuously stirring. Add broth, stir, reduce heat, cover & simmer for about 20 minutes. If broth is absorbed before rice & pasta is done, simply add more broth, re-cover & continue simmering. After your rice pilaf is done toss in your chopped parsley, mix well & serve immediatley.

Note: You can saute mushrooms and/or green peppers with your onion to add a different flavor. You may also substitute beef broth or vegetable broth if it compliments the rest of your meal better.

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