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!”
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:
Start off by sweating your base ingredients in a small amount of fat.
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.
Add the liquid (remember ratio!)
Bring to a boil.
Cover, and cook with gentle heat until finished.
Uncover, and fluff with fork. Recover the works, and let it rest for 5 minutes to finish steaming.
Lift off the cover, and there you go! Nice pilaf!