Take a walk on the gourmet side with this tantalizingly different rice pilaf. It’s slightly spicy, crunchy from pecans, and gets a touch of sweetness from dried cherries. It’s a savory and sweet match made in heaven. Wild rice is used, but feel free to substitute your favorite rice. It will still wake up your taste buds and have you asking for more.
The Author Says: “As a teenager, I spent an entire summer at Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The Edisto River runs through the “garden city” and was once noted for rice production. The cafeteria at the college served rice with every meal and raised my awareness about the grain’s history. I use wild rice here but switching out with any rice grain is fine.” –Nicole Taylor
Southern Rice Pilaf Recipe
1-1/2 cups wild rice
2 cups water
2-1/4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2/3 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 cup dried cherries
2 to 3 Tablespoons Chili Oil (recipe below)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Large pinch ground black pepper
Rinse the wild rice until the water runs clear, using a colander.
Combine the rice, water, stock, and butter in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil at medium-high heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer. After 20 minutes, uncover and stir. Let cool another 20 minutes without uncovering.
Remove pan from heat. Uncover rice and let rest 5 minutes.
The rice should maintain a slightly firm texture. Drain off excess water.
Toss pecans into a 12-inch skillet, over medium heat. Shake skillet a bit to move nuts around. Toast for 10 minutes. Set aside.
Place parsley and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Add the dried cherries and chopped pecans.
In the cooled rice stir in 1 tablespoon chili oil. Taste, and if too spicy, stick with just the 1 tablespoon (heat will vary based on chilies used). Stir in the cherry and pecan mixture.
Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Chili Oil Recipe
2 whole, fresh red bird’s eye chilies (any fresh chilies will work here)
1/3 cup olive oil
Cut chilies into 1/2-inch pieces.
Using a small saucepan, combine olive oil and peppers. Cook on medium-low heat for 8 minutes. Take off the flame. Let cool.
Oil can be used right away, or transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge.
Recipe Source: “The Up South Cookbook: Chasing Dixie in a Brooklyn Kitchen” by Nicole A. Taylor (Countryman Press)
Reprinted with express permission.