Easy Peasy Rice Pilaf

Rice is a super staple in our household. On any given day, my cupboard is stocked with at least five different types of rice grain. My favourite way of eating it is plain, steamed and accompanied by a savoury dish smothered with sauce. I do admit that sometimes plain steamed rice becomes plain ol’ rice.

Last night, I was tasked by my husband to cook rice to accompany the juicy slices of roast lamb left over from our recent dinner at his parents. My mom-in-law invites us over once a week for dinner mainly as a ruse to get us to bring her grand kids over. Whatever the reason, I am grateful for the break (even wannabe chefs need a break from the kitchen). Anyway, I was going to make plain ol’ rice but then I realized that only Rice Pilaf can do justice to the delicious lamb she made. A proper Rice Pilaf can take up to one hour to make but I didn’t have it in me to make that kind of investment on rice. I decided to take a shortcut – a very short shortcut.

I used my rice cooker. I know some of you are probably gasping right now at the thought of using a rice cooker to make Pilaf but if you want something fast and super easy then this here is a delicious substitute.

If you want an honest to goodness version of a Rice Pilaf, then check out Alton Brown’s recipe here. I love Alton Brown’s recipe because, like all of his recipes, it is easy to follow and tastes superb.

My recipe is an ode to his except mine takes 10 minutes to prepare and less than 20 minutes to cook!

Rice Pilaf
serves 4

3 cups of rice, washed and drained (long grain white rice works best ie. Basmati or Jasmine rice which is what I used for this recipe)
4 1/2 cups of chicken broth or less if you want a firmer texture
1 medium carrot, diced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/2 of a medium red pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon of orange zest, optional
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of coarse salt
Pepper (to your taste)
1 tablespoon butter
Raisins and chopped nuts, optional

(A note on cooking rice: not all rice are made equal. Some require a lot of liquid to cook. For the Thai Jasmine grain we buy, 1 cup of rice requires 2 cups of liquid, 2 cups of rice require 3, and so on. Others have a one to one ratio. For this recipe, I added an extra 1/2 cup of broth accounting for the liquid required to cook the other ingredients.)

Put the first 10 ingredients (and raisins if you choose to use some) into the pot of the rice cooker. Stir to incorporate the vegetables with the rice. Set the pot on the cooker and press cook/start.

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After 10 minutes or halfway through the cooking process, stir the mixture.

When the rice is done, add the butter and fluff the rice. I find that when cooking anything other than rice in my cooker, a dark, almost burnt crust forms at the bottom. I enjoy this but if you don’t, try not to scratch the bottom of the pot when fluffing the rice so as not to stir the crust with the rest of the rice.

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You can garnish with chopped nuts and parsley to jazz it up even more.

That’s it! Enjoy.

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