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What is rice pilaf?
Rice pilaf also involves aromatics such as onion, garlic, fennel or carrots. In this recipe I show you how to make it with onion, garlic and butter over medium high heat.
Clearly rice pilaf does not have to be a boring or bland side dish that many people typically think it is. This rice pilaf is fluffy, fragrant and much more than your standard white rice.
This recipe for rice pilaf is prepared in a sauté pan (or you can use a saucepan) on the stove top, but you can also make baked rice pilaf by placing it in a covered casserole dish and baking in the oven.
The best type of rice for making rice pilaf
There are several rice varietals that are divided into categories based on grain length, color, aroma, thickness, etc. But which is the best for a delicious rice pilaf?
I prefer basmati white rice. Through research the best choice is long-grain white rice. The individual grains are long and slender, and they contain a type of starch that is more apt to let the grains stay separate and fluffy as they cook.
How to make rice pilaf
Melt butter & stir in aromatics: First you will melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Toast the vermicelli and then add in the aromatics such as onions and garlic. This deepens the flavor in your pilaf immensely.
Toast the rice: This is a standard step yet I have made it without toasting it as well. (*Note if you watch the video I made I skipped the toasting rice step).
When toasting with, toast it with the vermicelli and toast the rice not until it browns but just briefly to help separate the rice (it helps to avoid mushy pilaf).
Add in the liquid and seasonings: Broth is the most preferred liquid for flavor purposes but if you don’t have any water will be OK. Some people I’ve learned also enjoy adding a little juice or wine into the broth for even more of an intense flavor.
Simmer and cook: Let the rice and liquid come to a small boil, place the lid on and turn to low heat for 15-20 minutes.
Fluff the rice: Why and how? Use a fork’s narrow tines to gently separate the grains without breaking them to help preserve the perfect texture of the rice you’ve worked so hard to get!
Tips for making the best rice pilaf
We all want our pilaf fragrant and to taste flavorful. Pilaf also should have a light, fluffy texture and the individual grains of rice should be separated, not mushy and stuck together. Here are some tips to make it perfect every time.
- Toast the rice in the butter, onion and vermicelli until each grain is well coated and translucent.
- Rinse the rice before you begin! This will rid the rice of outer starch and give you nicely separated grains in the final dish.
- Use less liquid than usual and simmer gently: The rice to broth/water ratio for rice pilaf is different than what the bag may say.
- Use aromatics for a more in depth flavor: Onion, garlic, fennel or carrots are common. In this recipe I show you how to make it with onion, garlic and butter.
- Cooking time: Before you put the lid on, give the rice only one quick stir after you bring it to a simmer. Cook it covered on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Let it rest for another 10 minutes and then fluff with your fork!
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How to Make Rice Pilaf
- 2 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
- 1/3 cup vermicelli
- 1/2 cup white onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup long grain white rice (Basmati)
- 1 3/4 cup chicken broth or water
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add in the vermicelli and toast it gently, stirring often to prevent burning. Then add in the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat to soften, about 1 minute.
- Add rice and stir it into the onion/butter until the salt grains look translucent. Then add in the broth and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and garnish with parsley.