Jan 28, 2009

Cook da rice...3 ways!

How 'bout some Boudreaux and Thibodeaux jokes before the recipes? (Unfortunately,) I've got a million of 'em!

Boudreaux and Thibodeaux were out on a weekend hunt when they see a spaceship land in the distance. They look at each other in disbelief. Then they watch as an alien exits the spaceship. Boudreaux says to Thibodeaux, "Mais, Thibodeaux, what you tink dat is?" Thibodeaux says, "Boudreaux, I don't know, me. But I get my gun. You go cook da rice!"
Boudreaux decides he's going to move to Beaumont to make it big. He tells Thibodeaux of his plans. Thibodeaux says, "Oh, Boudreaux! You can't move to Texas, no. Dey know fo' sho' you jus a Cajun." Boudreaux says, "Mais, I got mahself a plan, Thibodeaux! I'm gonna watch what dem Texans do and den do da same, yeah.

"Boudreaux moves to Beaumont. He goes to a local diner for lunch. The waitress comes to his table and asks for his order. Boudreaux says, “Oh! I need some time, me.” The waitress moves to the table next to Boudreaux and asks a big cowboy for his order. The cowboy says, “I’ll have a double cheeseburger, hold the lettuce.” Boudreaux takes note. The waitress moves to another table where a gal replies, “I’ll have a hamburger, hold the onion.” Boudreaux studies every move. At the next table: “I’ll have a cheeseburger, hold the pickle.” The waitress makes her way back to Boudreaux and asks if he is ready. Boudreaux says, “Mais, I’ll have a hamburger. Hold da rice!”
Rice is big around here. I live in an area surrounded by rice/crawfish ponds. Here’s a view by the late Elmore Morgan, Jr.
When I pass through the rice fields, I can’t help but think about how many people rice feeds...almost half the world’s population. Or about how many cultures the growing and consumption of rice spans. Just to name a few: Asian, Latin, African, and, of course Cajun. We eat a lot of rice. The story goes: You wake up and your mama says, “I cooked the rice, now what you want to eat?”

Sometimes I get tired of the typical way rice is served here (covered in etouffee, sauce piquante, gravy, gumbo). Here’s how I branch out (yes, I do live on the edge).

Lemon Scented Rice: my version of a FoodNetwork recipe from Tyler Florence. And fragrant like you wouldn't believe! This uses a type of rice that isn’t cooked too much around here.

Lemon Scented Rice
From FoodNetwork

1 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 bay leaf
1 cup basmati rice, lightly rinsed and drained
1 water
1 c chicken stock (homemade preferred)
2-3 wide strips lemon peel
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, and bay leaf, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and translucent. Add the rice and cook until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the water and chicken stock, along with the lemon peel. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Pull from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes undisturbed. Fluff with a fork season with some pepper and additional salt (if needed) and serve.

Not a lot of prep here. The chicken stock is homemade from my freezer. It really is better with homemade. Here's how to do it.
Saute the onion, salt and bay leaf.
Add the basmati rice and saute until it starts to turn light brown.

Add the water, chicken stock and lemon peel, bring to a boil. Then simmer.
After about 15 minutes, pull from heat and allow to steam for about 5 minutes. Seasone to taste with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf and lemon peel. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Great with grilled lamb! Pictured here with a buttery chicken dish.

Arroz Pilaf: after experimenting with many versions of Mexican rice, this is the way I like it. Homemade chicken stock is best. Really. It makes a huge difference.

Arroz Pilaf
from Ms. enPlace

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked rice
2 small tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ tsp cumin
2 cups chicken stock or broth (homemade preferred)
a couple of pinches dried oregano
¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Heat oil in a pot. Sauté onion and garlic. Add rice, tomatoes, chili powder, and cumin. Sauté for a few minutes until you think you may burn the chile powder. Getting this mixture well toasted is what gives the most flavor.

Pour in stock or broth, add salt, oregano, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 15-18 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow rice to steam for 5-10 minutes.

This requires a little more chopping then the previous recipe, but it makes enough for 6-7 servings. This time I added diced jalapeno (because I had it). Totally optional.
Pretty standard. Heat the oil. Saute onion and garlic.
Add rice, tomatoes, chili powder, and cumin. Here's where it gets a little off. Saute until you think the chili powder may burn. Trust me, you'll get great flavor this way. I learned this by almost burning this mixture by accident.
Add salt, oregano, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Back to standard rice cooking.
So good!*****************************
Cumin Scented White Rice: a nice change from the typical Mexican rice. Bonus: uses bacon grease, so it's got to be good!
Cumin-Scented White Rice
from Food and Wine Magazine

1 1/2 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable shortening
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 -1/4 small onion, diced
1/2-3/4 teaspoon ground cumin (to taste)
1 bay leaf
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the bacon grease in a saucepan. Add the garlic and onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin and bay leaf; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, stirring to coat with the bacon grease. Add the water and salt and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, remove bay leaf and serve. Serves 5.

Not a lot of ingredients here. The bacon grease is in the plastic container. When I cook bacon, I drain the grease into a jar or container (after it has cooled a bit), and save it in the fridge.
Heat the bacon grease, add onion and garlic. Saute until tender. Add cumin and bay leaf and cook for a few minutes.
Then add the rice and coat with all that tasty fat.

Add in salt and water. Simmer about 18 minutes.

Steam for about 10 minutes, remove bay leaf, and fluff with a fork. Serve.
Shown here with Sautéed Zucchini and Tamale Balls (which weren't worth blogging about)

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