Rice pilaf sings of hope, of heartbreak, of heedlessness. Non, it glistens, je ne regrette rien (“No, I regret nothing”).
Pilaf shares much with its near namesake, Edith Piaf, the French chanteuse famous for her lack of regret. Each has a past. The innocent girl, once abandoned, grew to sing with abandon. Likewise the innocent grains — browned in butter, peppered with pepper and simmered in stock — develop depth.
This rice is no blank slate, no side-of-starch, no white-carton staple. It’s savory and savvy.
The cook, settling down with plate and earbuds, casts her eyes, in the singer’s signature pose, skyward. She takes heart from pilaf, from Piaf, from a rosy perspective. Or, as Piaf would have it, from la vie en rose.
Prep: 15 minutes. Cook: 1 hour, 5 minutes. Makes about 3 cups.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup halved and sliced white mushrooms
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or dried rosemary needles
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup long-grain brown rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1. Soften: In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt butter into oil. Slide in onion and garlic. Cook, stirring now and then, until onion begins to soften, 2 minutes.
2. Brown: Slide in mushrooms. Season with rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring now and then, until mushrooms begin to brown, 10-12 minutes.
3. Toast: Slide in rice. Stir until each grain is coated with butter and some begin to brown (or even pop) 2-4 minutes.
4. Simmer: Pour in broth. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook until all liquid has been absorbed, about 50 minutes. Note: Cooking time differs depending on type and brand of rice. Check the package label for recommended cooking time.
5. Rest: Pull pan off heat. Let rest, 10 minutes.
6. Serve: Scatter on parsley. Season with more salt and pepper. Serve.