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Rice is Right

When creating a plan for your family’s dinner many cooks start with what kind of protein they want to serve. Fish, beef, pork or chicken are the standard choices. Once we have decided on the protein we start to look at the side dishes.

The traditional dinner trilogy will be protein, vegetable and starch. Local restaurant menus are filled with these types of choices and most of us grew up eating meals like this. This is true Americana and when everything is in proper proportion we feel we are eating well.

Side dishes can make or break a meal. Think about Thanksgiving…..the turkey may be the centerpiece, but it’s all about the side dishes. The finest dinners I’ve eaten have had the best sides. To qualify for a “best side” classification it has to look delicious, smell wonderful, and have a great, complex flavor and texture.

I was recently reading an article about rice. It seems to be one of the oldest cultivated foods on record. The Chinese have uncovered sealed earthen pots filled with rice that have been dated to be more than 8,000 years old. That can get you thinking. Of course rice is popular today and readily available at every grocery store, and inexpensive at that.

We’ve all had rice in many different dishes. Rice Pilaf is a common term found on restaurant menus and serves as an accompaniment to many, many dishes. The recipe I am featuring today has both brown rice and wild rice. Brown rice is simply the whole rice grain with only the inedible husk removed. This causes for a nice chewy texture and a rich nutty flavor. Wild rice isn’t truly rice at all, but a long grain marsh grass native to the upper Great Lakes region. Be sure to rinse both rices thoroughly before you use them.

This recipe makes excellent use of the two rices and adds great flavor with the apricots and almonds. Give this a try, you will be pleased.

Apricot, Almond Rice Pilaf

1/2 onion, small dice1/4 tsp cinnamon1 Tbl unsalted butter1/4 cup brown rice, uncooked1/4 cup wild rice, uncooked1.5 cups chicken broth, hot3 dried apricots, sliced2 tbl almonds, sliced and toasted2 tsp dried parsley

Sweat onion and cinnamon in butter for 4 to 5 minutes, do not brown.

Add both rices and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.

Stir in hot broth and simmer for about 45 minutes until tender.

When rice is done remove from heat, stir in sliced apricots and let stand covered for 10 minutes.

Stir in almonds and parsley.

Serve & enjoy!

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