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Kitchen 101 – The Humble Pilaf

Chef Maxwell peered over my shoulder as I pulled the cover off my latest disaster. He frowned, a disapproving look on his face. The pilaf was mushy, and just, wrong. If I was to use that pilaf for service, it would resemble congee when reheated. What had I done wrong?

Chef Maxwell sighed, and asked, “Jason! What is the ratio of rice to water?”

That was the thing, our training was designed to maximize our chances in the “real world.” No hesitation, I answered back, “2 to 1, Chef!”

“That is the ratio for rice, how about a Pilaf?”

I frantically thought through all that I had read the night before. Then it dawned on me, what I had done wrong. Perhaps Chef Maxwell saw the realization on my face. Perhaps he saw my slumped shoulders, the only clue I gave to him that I understood what I had done wrong.

“Jason, always remember this: 85%. When you are preparing a pilaf, you always need to compensate for the slight cooking of the grains before you add your liquid. I bet you will never forget that percentage!”

“Yes Chef!”

Chef Maxwell was correct, I never forgot it. Today I am going to introduce you to one of my favorite ways of preparing grains. The Humble Pilaf.

What is a Pilaf?

A pilaf is a dish where your grains are first cooked in a bit of fat, then in seasoned water. Sometimes it is cooked with meats, other times with vegetables. Pilafs were probably one of the earliest ways to cook grains like rice.

Why a pilaf?

A pilaf is a wonderful vehicle for amazing amounts of flavors. It is simple to prepare, and if doen correctly – will compliment any meal you prepare it with.

Here is how you do it:

Here is what you need today:

a photo of the type of fat I am using

Small amount of fat

a photo of the base flavorings for this dish

Base flavorings (could be mirepoix)

a photo of 7 grain rice I used

Rice (or other grain such as barley)

a photo of the seaonings I used

Seasonings

a photo of the liquid

Liquid - Here it is 85% of normal ratio. (in this case, normal is 3 cups to 5 cups.)

The Steps:

Start off by sweating your base ingredients in a small amount of fat.

a photo of sweating mirepoix

Once they are translucent, add your rice and allow the grains to be coated with fat so each grain is individually coated, and a bit browned.

a photo of how the grains are supposed to look

Saute the grains until they are nutty

Add the liquid (remember ratio!)

adding the stock to the rice

Add the liquid

Add seasonings

adding seasoning to the mixture

Add the seasoning to the liquid

Bring to a boil.

Bring the mixture to a boil

Cover, and cook with gentle heat until finished.

cover the mixture to either put in the oven or cook on the stove top

Uncover, and fluff with fork. Recover the works, and let it rest for 5 minutes to finish steaming.

a photo of me fluffing the rice with a fork

Lift off the cover, and there you go! Nice pilaf!

a photo of the final fluff

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