Nana’s Rice Pilaf

Indian Pilau rice

Grandmother Nana’s skill in the kitchen would turn most cooks and chefs green with envy. She was legendary for her country style baking in Pioneer Dad’s family and her rice pilaf was one of my favorites.

But, Nana knew her way around a rice casserole too.

Dishes featuring rice date back to the time of Darius the Great, who introduced the cultivation of rice too much of the area now known as the Middle East during the fifth century. Rice pilaf has become an important part of the diet for Turks and Armenians and later for people in other parts of the Middle East and Asia.

Pilaf refers to any dish that’s prepared with a grain and then sautéed with butter or oil before being cooked in a seasoned broth. Different rice can be used from basmati rice to brown rice.

Pilaf can be served as a side-dish or, with variations, a main dish.

Prep Time: 25 min.
Total Time: 1 hr. 20 min.
Servings: 8

1. Ingredients

4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 Cup uncooked vermicelli pasta broken into small pieces
1 Cup uncooked long grain Basmati rice
1 Can Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup
1-1/2 Cups chicken broth or water
1 Carrot diced into ¼” pieces
2 Cellery stalks diced into ¼” pieces
1/2 Onion, finely diced

2. Directions

Rinse rice twice in cold water.
Melt butter in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add vermicelli, onion, carrot and celery then lightly sauté.
Add rice and cook, stirring constantly until vermicelli is golden brown.
Drain liquid from the can of chicken noodle soup and set aside.

Transfer ingredients to a heavy skillet, Dutch oven or oven-safe cassoral dish. Add the liquid from chicken soup and enough chicken broth to equal 2 cups of liquid, stir and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover and bake at 350 F. for 45 to 55 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

Gently fluff with a fork. Let stand covered for 10 minutes before serving.

3. Tips and variations

For a lighter and less salty pilaf, substitute water for the chicken broth.

Dice red bell pepper, mushrooms or parsley for added flavor.

Turn the Rice Pilaf into a main dish by adding a cup of leftover shrimp, chicken, pork or beef. Dice the meat into 1/4″-inch cubes and sauté in olive oil. Add to the pilaf during the last 5-minutes of baking or on top when plating as a granish.

Long grain rice works best for this recipe. Don’t use converted rice; it will not cook properly.

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