Friday, October 26, 2012

Persian Rice

This recipe, from Bon Appétit, stayed in my stack of recipes for a while. You see, it’s made in such a way that the bottom layer of rice is almost burnt, clearly stating that “The browned, crusty layer of rice that forms at the bottom of the pan is considered the most treasured part of this Middle Eastern classic.” And I was so worried about the burnt-on crust that it didn’t even occur to me that I would undercook it and there would be no crust! When I noticed that the rice was done, I simply took the pan off the heat, before the 20-25 minute mark. I obviously should have left it on longer! It tasted really good, though, and I can see how having a layer of browned rice would have really made this stand out. This dish serves about 8 as a side dish. I served it with roasted pork tenderloin with Dijon mustard and herbes de Provence, at the Engineer’s request.

2 cups basmati rice
3 tsp. kosher salt, divided
pinch of saffron threads
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt (lactose-free)
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter or vegan margarine

Place rice in a medium saucepan; add 2 tsp. salt and cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain rice, reserving ¾ cup cooking liquid.

Place saffron and ½ cup reserved cooking liquid in a small bowl; let saffron soften for 5 minutes. Place yogurt in a medium bowl and stir in remaining 1 tsp. salt and saffron water. Add rice and stir to coat.

Melt butter in a large deep nonstick skillet over medium heat; swirl to coat bottom and sides of pan. Add rice, mounding slightly in center. Poke 6–7 holes in rice with the end of a wooden spoon. Cover with foil, then a lid. Cook, rotating skillet over burner for even cooking, for 10 minutes (do not stir). Reduce heat to low; cook, adding more reserved cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if rice has not finished cooking when water evaporates, until a golden brown crust forms on bottom of rice, 20–25 minutes. (Don’t take it off the heat too early, or you won’t have enough of a crust.)

Remove lid and foil; invert a plate over skillet. Using oven mitts, carefully invert rice onto plate; use a heatproof spatula to remove any crust remaining in skillet.

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