Monday, January 24, 2011

0 Recipe #236: Mushroom Rice Pilaf with Fresh Herbs

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Mushroom rice pilaf is the perfect side dish to accompany fish, chicken, beef, or lamb. If you've ever had Near East Wild Mushroom & Herb Rice Pilaf, this dish tastes somewhat similar, but it's much more vibrant, since it's made with fresh herbs, shallots, onions, & garlic. :) Plus, it has sherry in it, which enhances the flavor of this dish even more. The boxed stuff is decent, but why use a mix when the fresh stuff tastes so much better?! :-D


Mushroom Rice Pilaf with Fresh Herbs

Ingredients:
1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. yellow (or red) onion, peeled & finely diced (1/2 large onion)
1/2 c. shallots
1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled & finely minced (about 2 large cloves)
1 large, fresh bay leaf
1 c. long-grain, brown basmati rice
1/2 c. dry, uncooked orzo pasta
1/2 c. sherry (or dry vermouth, if unavailable)
1/2 c. dried, sliced shiitake mushrooms, broken into 1/4" thick pieces
2 Tbsp. fresh, Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (for garnish)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, densely packed
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, very finely minced & densely packed
1 Tbsp. fresh marjoram leaves, very finely minced & densely packed
1/2 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves, very finely minced & densely packed
1 tsp. fresh tarragon leaves, very finely minced & densely packed
4 c. water (or for even more flavor, use low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock)
1 tsp. unsalted butter (optional)
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/2 - 3/4 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, julienned (between 1 tsp - 1/2 Tbsp. per person) (for garnish)

Directions: In a large (12-13"), nonstick sauté pan, sauté onions, shallots, garlic, & bay leaf in olive oil on low heat until translucent but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir frequently. Season with a small pinch of salt to help evaporate moisture faster, sprinkling from high above to ensure a more even distribution. (Don't add all of it into the pan now; you'll be using the remainder of the salt later on in the cooking process.) Turn up heat to medium, & mix in dry, uncooked rice & orzo, stirring continually for about 1-2 minutes. Watch pan carefully so rice & orzo mixture doesn't brown or burn. (This step is particularly important, as it cooks off the starchy coating of the rice & orzo & prevents the grains from getting sticky and mushy when the liquid ingredients are added. The rice & orzo mixture should be slightly crispy, but not browned.) Deglaze with sherry, stirring constantly, adding a 1/4 c. at a time, until liquid is absorbed. While sherry is reducing, add dried mushrooms & all fresh herbs minus the fresh basil, (which will be used later for garnish). After sherry has mostly evaporated, use a liquid measuring cup to incorporate water or stock, adding only one cup at a time, stirring constantly. Allow each cup to be absorbed before adding the next. Each addition should be only just enough to cover the rice & orzo mixture. Next add butter (if using), & season with turmeric, black pepper, & remaining salt. Reduce heat to low again & simmer, uncovered, until rice & orzo are al dente, about 20-25 minutes. Test to see if it's ready by pinching a rice grain; if only 2 or less beads remain, the rice is done. Rice should be creamy but still firm. (Most of the water should be absorbed by this point.) When ready, remove from heat & let rest for 5-10 minutes. Then stir in lemon juice, mixing thoroughly to evenly distribute ingredients. Fluff pilaf lightly with fork before serving & garnish each portion with fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

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