Many cultures around the world cook rice dishes using virtually the same method – the pilaf method. Just change a few ingredients here and there and you can make such dishes as Latin American arroz con pollo, Spanish paella, Creole jambalaya, Indian biryani and many others.
The pilaf, or polow, may have come from ancient Persia (modern-day Iran), but surely spread throughout the world due to the influence the ancient Persian empire had around the Mediterranean, North Africa as well as Central Asia. The pilaf extended its reach into Western Europe, the Americas as well as Southeast Asia (though some contend that the pilaf-method was already in use in India prior to its use in Persia), due to the rise of other empires following that of the Persians.
Basically, a pilaf is rice cooked in stock with the addition of various spices, vegetables, and/or meat. Once you get a handle on the basic preparation technique, you can let your imagination run wild using various spices, herbs, produce and meats to suit your taste buds.
Here are a few simple recipes to get you started. Please let me know how yours turned out or if you have any other great pilaf-type recipes to share in the comments section!
(a shout-out to my Creole heritage and hometown of New Orleans!!)
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
10 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into rounds
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon file powder
1 1/4 cups uncooked white rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a large heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning. Cook sausage until browned. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil, and cook chicken pieces until lightly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
2. In the same pot, cook onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until tender. Stir in crushed tomatoes, and season with red pepper, black pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce and file powder. Stir in chicken and sausage. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.
ARROZ CON POLLO (Chicken and Rice)
1 (3 1/2) pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces seasoned with Adobo with Pepper, to taste (may substitute chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces, if desired)
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
1 1/2 cups Extra Long Grain Rice
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1 packet Sazon Goya with Azafran
1/4 cup Pitted Spanish Olives, sliced
1 (4 ounce) jar Sliced Pimientos
1/2 cup Frozen Peas, thawed
1. Using paper towels, pat chicken dry. Season chicken with Adobo. Heat oil in caldero, or large heavy pot over medium heat. Cook chicken, in batches, until brown on all sides, 7-10 minutes (4-7 min if using chicken breast pieces); set aside.
2. Stir onions, peppers and garlic into pot; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add rice and Sazon to pot; cook, stirring constantly, until rice is completely coated in oil mixture, about 1 minute.
3. Stir in 3 cups broth; bring to a boil. Add olives and chicken (skin-side up) to pot. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer until water is absorbed, rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
4. To serve, using fork, fluff rice; garnish with pimiento strips and peas.
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
1 pinch saffron threads or 1 tsp Badia Yellow Coloring
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 quart chicken stock
2 lemons, zested
1 Spanish onion, chopped (may substitute yellow onion)
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (you can also add scrubbed and debearded mussels for a more traditional paella – add these at the last moment and steam for a few minutes until opened)
1. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, smoked paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in marinated chicken and sausage ; cook 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper, onion, and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in red pepper flakes and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Let the mixture simmer for 8-10 minutes to allow the rice begin to absorb the liquid. Stir in shrimp; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink. Continue to simmer until liquid level is just below the level of the rice, then remove from the heat and cover to allow the rice to continue to absorb the liquid. Wait 10 minutes and serve.
3. Spread rice mixture onto a serving tray. Garnish with extra chopped parsley.