Need an easy and delicious side dish? Think rice pilaf

Rice Pilaf made at The International Culinary Center

Every week, my girlfriends and I cook dinner for each other. Whoever hosts provides all the food and wine, and handles the entire cleanup. It's a pretty sweet deal, and it gives all eight of us a chance to catch up in our busy lives.

When it's my turn to host, I spend a few days planning. What should the main course be? Salad? Side dish? Of course, it must always be something we look back on and think, "That was so good." No pressure...right?

Video: Rice pilaf: A simple and tasty side dish

This brings me to the subject of today's post - rice pilaf. I am baffled that I've never considered making it as a side dish. It only took two years of girls' dinner, and a few months of culinary school, for it to dawn on me. It's an easy and delicious side dish to almost anything. It will absolutely be on the menu next time I host. Get excited, girls!

To learn how to make homemade rice pilaf, watch the video above.

Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Rice Pilaf
Adapted from The International Culinary Center

Rice pilaf with veal stew made in class.

Yield: 4 Servings

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley leaves, finely chopped

Note: Traditional rice pilaf is cooked in an oven, but you can make it on the stove-top. If you are putting it in the oven, make sure to watch it closely because it can quickly burn.

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Melt half of the butter in a pot and then add the onion. Cube the remaining butter and set aside. Sweat the onion until translucent, but be careful not to achieve any color.

3. Add the rice, then stir over low-to-medium heat until it becomes opaque.

4. Add the stock, thyme and bay leaf.

5. Bring the rice to a simmer and cover.

6. Place the rice in the oven (or keep on stove-top with low flame) and cook for 17 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

7. Remove the pan from the oven and remove lid. Dot the top of the rice with the remaining cubed butter, then replace the lid to allow the butter to incorporate into the rice.

8. Uncover and fluff with fork. Add chopped parsley and serve.

Plating tip: Fill a ramekin or small cup with rice and pack it in tightly. Tilt your plate to the side and put the cup upside down in the middle of the plate. Place your plate on a table and remove the cup. The rice should remain neatly molded.

  • Alison Stravitz

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