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Make Nice Rice

By Luci Do you like rice? I do. Or find it hard to achieve perfectly cooked rice? I have a never-fail method. Or find it boring, perhaps because you, like me, are tired of Asian, MidEast or Mexican treatments of it? I wondered how some of my favorite fatty Western recipes for starches such as potatoes and pasta, would taste when made with rice. Indeed, most starches can be treated similarly with the same combination of ingredients.

The Basic Rice Recipe. (Serves 4-6)

Basmati rice, beloved for its marvelous aroma and nutty taste, was used in all the recipes below. Ingredients 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter or neutral oil 1 small onion, about1/2 cup, chopped 1 1/2 cups water, chicken stock or vegetable stock 1 cup basmati rice 1 teaspoon salt Preparation

  1. Heat butter or oil in a heavy sauce pot. Add the onions and cook, occasionally stirring, for about 3 minutes, until onion is soft. Add rice and cook, stirring, for another 2-3 minutes, until rice has taken on some color.

  2. Bring water to a boil while sautéing onions and rice.

  3. Pour boiling water into sauce pot and add salt. Stir once, cover and turn heat to low. Cook for 17 minutes. Take off heat, keep cover on pot, and let rest for 10 or more minutes.


  1. At step 1, you may add other flavorings such as herbs or spices.

  2. You can prepare all dishes several hours ahead or even a day ahead. Warm it up before serving, but gentle does it with low heat.

Rice au Gratin

Who isn’t a fan of melted cheese? If you like potatoes au gratin, you will be deeply appreciative of rice treated au gratin. Ingredients 3 tablespoons butter, divided 1 cup cooked rice (basic recipe), sautéed with butter and 1 teaspoon grated garlic 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup sour cream Salt and pepper to taste 1 cup shredded Cheddar or other cheese (Gruyere, Swiss or Fontina are good choices) Preparation

  1. Use about 1 tablespoon of butter to grease a gratin pan.

  2. Melt the other 2 tablespoons of butter in a pot. Add the heavy cream and bring just to a simmer.

  3. Take off heat and mix the butter/cream with the rice and then mix in the sour cream.

  4. Spread mixture evenly in the gratin pan and cover with the shredded cheese. Place under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Note: This rice will take nicely to herbs (oregano, marjoram, rosemary, e.g.) and anything I can think of that would enhance potatoes au gratin.

With Bacon, Shallots, Cream and Thyme

The combination in the title is versatile and guaranteed to enhance many basic foods. For example, combine with mushrooms for an appetizer spread for crostini or a dip or use it in a sauce to accompany chicken, pork and some vegetables. Rich and umami heavy, the combination worked beautifully with rice.

Ingredients 4 strips thick-cut bacon 2 large shallots, minced 14 sprigs of thyme, divided 1 cup basic recipe, the rice sautéed with 1tablespoon bacon fat, shallots and 7 sprigs of thyme 3/4 cup heavy cream Salt and pepper Preparation

  1. Cook bacon to just short of crisp. Drain bacon, cut into small pieces. Reserve fat.

  2. In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine cooked rice, bacon bits, cream, 7 sprigs of thyme and salt and pepper. Taste and, if desired, add another 1/2 or 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat. Heat gently.

With Caraway Seeds and Sour Cream

This combination is terrific for its mix of sour and bitter tastes. It’s versatile also. I’ve used it in appetizers, soup, sauce for pork or chicken, and salad. Ingredients 3 tablespoons caraway seeds 1 cup basic recipe for rice, sautéed with butter and chicken stock 3/4 cup sour cream Salt and pepper Note: Sautéing chopped dill or mint with the rice would make a nice variation. Preparation

  1. In a small skillet, heat the caraway seeds, stirring, just until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  2. To the hot rice add the sour cream, caraway seeds and salt and pepper. Mix well.


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