Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chicken & Rice Pilaf

So I'm sick. Yes, again. Yes, that does make three times in as many months. Sigh. Clearly my bragging about not getting sick all of last year has caught up to me. Anyway, being sick means chicken soup, and chicken soup means left-over boiled chicken (I'm picky, so I only ever eat the broth and the noodles). I've already blogged about one use for left-over chicken in the Russian kitchen, and now I'd like to present a second.

This is a recipe for my grandma Regina's very delicious Chicken and Rice Pilaf...or as the Russians like to say, Plov. My grandma calls this a 'southern' recipe, by which she means it comes from someplace in the Caucuses, or maybe from one of the many Stans of Central Asia. All I know is that wherever it's from, they sure know how to cook rice. You would think that with 3 cups of rice, this recipe would make about 6 servings, but you would be wrong. In fact, with everyone taking seconds, I've barely had leftovers when feeding 4 people.

So then, here's what you'll need for 4 large servings:
  • 2-3 cups white or brown basmati rice (uncooked)
  • 1-2 cups boiled chicken (about 1 lb raw chicken), shredded
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1-2 teaspoons Vegeta seasoning mix
  • salt and pepper

1) Cook rice according to package directions in lightly salted water.

2) While the rice is cooking, shred the chicken, grate the carrot, dice the onion, and slice the garlic.

3) Liberally drizzle olive oil into a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and saute for another minute. Add the chicken, mix well, and saute for 2 more minutes.

4) Lower the heat to medium, and add the rice, garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Drizzle more olive oil, then mix everything together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5) Allow to fry for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding olive oil as necessary. The pilaf should become crispy and light brown. Mix in the Vegeta seasoning. *

6) Continue to fry for another 10 minutes or so, again adding olive oil as necessary, until dark brown crispy bits are distributed throughout the pilaf. Mmm, dark brown crispy bits. Taste before serving, the pilaf will probably need a little more salt and pepper.

* Vegeta is a very common seasoning blend found in Eastern European cooking. A little goes a long way, I've had that big can for several years now, and it's only about half empty. I know that you can get it on Amazon if you can't find it in your local Russian or European food mart. I highly recommend it for soups and rice dishes, however, if you don't have any on hand, the above pilaf still tastes good without it...not the same, but good.

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