Friday, September 21, 2012

Recession sludge!

I'm lucky: I really love brown rice. Am I lucky? Is that unusual? All I know is I don't get sick of it. Which is good in a recession. This recipe isn't interesting, but I like it. It sustains me, sitting in the deep, heavy Calaphon pan in the fridge, as I scoop out bowls' full during the week. It reheats incredibly well, and can be added to, and sauced, and made more cheesy as the pantry and wallet dictate.


• 1st stage: You need flavoring and fat now--and protein, if you can afford it. So, for instance: very browned meat with aromatics if you're in the mood to chop them (I'm often not), or just spices: heat up some olive oil or butter and crush some dried herbs into it and let them sizzle. This is the stage where I really like to get the extra protein in if I can.  If you have a little minced ham or ground meat, add that. I tend to buy decent-quality protein only on sale and put it in my freezer if I can't use it right away.

In the image below I used four Italian sausages (crumbled out of their casings), browned very crisp and excess fat drained, to which I then added oregano, dry mustard, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, some tomato paste, paprika... I think I threw in some Cotes du Rhone from the fridge door and let it boil off a bit. Basically you want to make a good flavor base of some kind, in enough fat to toast your rice. High temps and a lot of stirring are good here. Make sure there's enough salt and pepper.

• 2nd stage: Throw the rice in and toast it. Plain brown rice is good, but I also like grain combos, if you can get them working: Lundberg rice blends are good, or rice with barley, or rice with quinoa (added later in the cooking process). Stir, stir, stir.

• 3rd stage: Add liquid. Here is the place for stock or broth if you have it, or can afford it. Water's fine, too.

• When it's done: Fluffing the rice and letting it sit is essential once it seems like the rice is really done.

I like to eat it straight with a little extra salt. Or reheated with cheese, if I have some, or a spoon of yoghurt on top. Sometimes instead of putting in the protein in the beginning, I will make a basic veloute sauce and add the protein to that: organic chicken breast, for instance - much easier to deal with in volume - that I roast and make stock from to use for the sauce and and to cook the rice. Make sure the sauce also has lots of flavor: Worcestershire, dry mustard, pepper, thyme, etc. You can make it a cheese sauce with the roux base. Mix it with the cooked rice.

The point is: it is yummy, and because it's whole grain you feel very satisfied, and there aren't a million pans, and it keeps extremely well in the fridge and there are a lot of variations and you know - yum.

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