Rice is an easy go-to in my house because I use a rice maker. Basically you throw the rice plus the liquid in the bowl of the cooker and place it over a reservoir of water, set the timer and walk away. Doesn’t get any easier than that. But preparing rice on the cook-top is not always easy and certainly not always foolproof. The low setting on my stove may barely simmer while the low setting on your stove may be a low boil. That makes it hard to judge how long to cook something without losing the liquid too fast, especially when you’re not supposed to lift the lid until it’s done. Still, I have plain jane rice.
Sometimes I want something with a little more flavor and texture and I do love rice pilaf. I will admit right here, right now that I’ve gone to those boxes of premeasured rice with that packet of flavor more times than I care to admit. I really like having more control of the ingredients and keeping it healthy. So, I went on a mission of making rice pilaf. I started by doing one version in the rice maker by just throwing in a little oil, chopped onions, salt and rice. I didn’t sauté’ anything, just threw it in thinking I was going to keep it super simple and it was going to be scrumptious. Not. The onion had that raw taste even though they were cooked and soft and the whole dish was not what I wanted. So, dumped that idea.
I also made one on the cook-top and that turned out ok, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s hard to judge the temperature on the stove so that the rice cooks in the right amount of time with the right amount of liquid and doesn’t get too mushy. I was constantly babysitting it worrying I was going to burn it. It’s like a science project!
Then I thought, if I could control the temperature with the right ratio of rice to liquid, then it would be consistent each time. That’s where the oven comes in. I searched for the right ratio of rice to liquid and oven temperature and came up with this one and it’s my new favorite, plus it’s easy since I put it in a dish, cover it and throw it in the oven until the timer goes off. No babysitting necessary! I can focus my attention on other dishes for my meal. (or catch a little time with a good book) In this recipe, I added mushrooms for a little something extra, but if you’re not a mushroom fan, just leave them out.
Here’s how I make it.
Oven Baked Rice Pilaf
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pot over medium heat, combine the chicken stock and salt. Gently rub the saffron in your hand to break it into smaller pieces and add to the stock. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 5 minutes. This infuses the saffron into the stock and brings out the flavor in the rice pilaf. Turn off burner.
TIP: Want to make this vegetarian or vegan? Substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock. That is fabulous too!
In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter in vegetable oil. Add onions and saute until they are tender and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Add rice and saute with the onions for 3 minutes.
Pour rice in a 9x13x2 baking pan or a 4 quart casserole dish as I have here.
Mix in the mushrooms. If I have fresh, I much prefer to use them chopped, but I only had canned available this time and used them. If you’re not a mushroom fan, you can certainly omit them entirely.
Pour the hot chicken stock over the rice mixture and give it a swirl to mix it up a bit.
Cover with aluminum foil and seal around the edge as tight as you can. Bake in your preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove it from the oven, but do not remove the foil. Let it sit for 10 minutes. This is important! It allows the rice to finish absorbing any extra liquid and for whatever reason, it will fluff up better.
And that’s fluffy rice rich in flavor from the chicken stock and saffron! Delicious!
A great accompaniment to any entree!
The day I made this, I served it alongside my Coq Au Vin. Oh So Good! A Perfect pair! If you love French foods, check out that recipe.
What’s your favorite way to make rice?
Here’s the printer friendly recipe.