Basic Pilaf

Yield 4 side-dish or 2 main-course servings Time 45 minutes Mark Bittman

Which rice is best? Pilafs made with short-grain rice, like arborio, have better texture, a certain al dente quality that is very attractive. But that quality is fleeting, and if you overcook the pilaf or let it rest too long, the texture becomes gummy. Long-grain rice -- and here Basmati is the rice of choice -- is more flexible in its cooking time, and the grains remain separate long after the cooking is done.
Ingredients • • • • • • • • Method •

2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped Salt and pepper 1 cup white rice 1 cup chopped tomatoes (canned will work fine; use the juice), optional 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Put butter or oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and a large pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion turns translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is glossy and begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 2. Add tomatoes, if desired, and stir for a minute; add stock (the smaller amount if you use tomatoes), and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, cook for a minute or two, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook about 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn heat to absolute minimum, and cook another 15 to 30 minutes; if stove is electric, turn heat off and let pan sit on burner for same amount of time. Stir in parsley and lemon juice, and serve.

.Before adding stock. stir in 1 cup shrimp or scallops. Golden Pilaf -. Pilaf With Currents and Pine Nuts -. Bulgar Pilaf -.Variations • • • • • Seafood Pilaf -. you need not defrost first).Just before adding stock. add 1/4 cup currants (or raisins). stir in 1 cup cooked chickpeas or raw green peas (frozen are all right.Substitute coarse-grained bulgur for rice.Just before adding stock. cut into 1/2inch dice. Proceed as above. warm it with a large pinch ( 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) saffron threads. 2 tablespoons pine nuts and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. and cook only 10 minutes after stock comes to a boil. Pilaf With Chickpeas or Peas -.Along with the rice.

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