Well, well, well! Bonjour tout le monde! I hope this blog post finds you enjoying the start of Summer wherever you may be in the world. It has been about 6 months or longer since I have actually cooked anything or been in a kitchen long enough to do anything other than pour myself a glass of water or make my morning tea. The good news is, I now have a tea collection that is upwards of 200 different kinds of tea.
With grilling season upon us, I felt it apropos to share with you a new delicious grilling recipe that I just used for the first time for dinner last night. It is simply fresh squeezed navel orange juice, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Simple right? I utilized it on chicken breasts but I am certain it would be delicious on a pork tenderloin or a piece of hearty fish like swordfish.
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? For months I have been dying to share a family secret recipe with you. Armenian Rice Pilaf is a family favorite. You will understand the moment you start melting the butter and tossing in the broken angel hair pasta for browning. Allow 1 hour and 45 minutes to prepare – one hour is rice soaking time. This time provides you with mise en place time or to do anything else, laundry, binge watch a show (ok, ok maybe not that long). You don’t have to babysit the rice whilst it is soaking. I promise. I always plop a fork in it to stir it occasionally while I am soaking it. I tend to use the soak time for mise en place. I chop my onion, rinse and chop my mushrooms, break the pasta. You know, that old chestnut. But, that hour is yours to do with as you choose.
Sunday evening, I planned out my meal. I actually planned it out three and a half days ago. I was itching to make the ratatouille I made last Summer. I am in love with that recipe. I was also trying to decide what would be a nice balance that would complement the Ratatouille as well as not take away from its delicious full-bodied flavor. I decided – an herbes de provence grilled chicken and Armenian rice pilaf. The marinade recipe is below the rice pilaf.
Armenian Rice Pilaf
- 1 cup uncle Ben’s Converted Rice (soaked and drained)
- 1 pound of white mushrooms (cleaned, chopped)
- 1 white onion chopped fine
- 1 (14 ounce) can of Swanson’s Chicken Broth
- Handful of thin spaghetti (it MUST be the thinnest you can find)
- 1 stick of Butter
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Total Cook time – 1 hour and 45 minutes
One hour prior to preparation, measure one cup of rice and let it soak in two cups of water.
As the water starts to turn white/starchy drain liquid and refill (about every fifteen minutes). The rice must soak one hour per cup of rice (if you double the recipe this is very important). Strain rice once it doubles in size *if you are using the 2 cup pyrex measuring cup it’s the easiest to see how much the rice fluffs-up once the water has absorbed.
While the rice is soaking, chop onions and mushrooms, then set aside.
In a 3 1/2 qt pan with a lid melt two pats or so of butter on medium low. Once the butter is melted break the handful of thin spaghetti pasta into 1 ½” pieces (or thirds, I try to go with fourths). Sauté broken pasta pieces until brown. This is going to take some time. Be patient. The reward in the end is full of flavor rice pilaf that you cannot get in any restaurant. The pasta pieces should be dark wood colored. You can see a very good difference in the photo below.
Next add in chicken broth, mushrooms, onion and strained (previously soaked one hour) rice. Add salt and pepper. Stir and cover on medium heat. Bring to a boil (while stirring occasionally). Once at a boil turn to low, cover and let the broth slowly cook out while stirring occasionally. Keep a close eye on it. You may want to stir in a couple more pats of butter as well as more salt and pepper. Once the broth has cooked out remove from heat and allow it to sit covered for about five minutes and serve.
A couple of options, you can use vegetable stock or broth, or beef broth. I sometimes kick it up with beef broth if I’m serving it with a beef dish.
Orange Herbes de Provence Marinade
- 2 navel oranges – zested and juiced
- 1 lemon – zested and juiced
- 1 heaping teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
First, wash your citrus then zest all three into a 2 to 3 cup mixing bowl. Do not get any white pith in your zest. The white pith is bitter and no one wants that in our grilling show! Next microwave each for about 20-25 seconds. This will make it easier to juice as well as get the most juice you can get out of your citrus, too. Slice your citrus in half and use a reamer to extract the juices. Add in your Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Give it a quick whisk. Make sure the marinade is not warm or hot from the citrus being in the microwave. Once it is fully combined, pour it over your desired meat of choice. I used chicken breasts that I sliced into palliard cutlets. Please note it is exceptionally important to use a sharp knife for this. Do not hurry through this. I use this method because it is perfect for grilling chicken evenly. I also tenderized the chicken with this device. It definitely helped get the marinade throughout the chicken once it was grilled.
I can imagine using this with a pork tenderloin, or a hearty piece of fish, like swordfish. Note if you decide to use fish, do not marinate this longer than about an hour or two. I marinated my chicken for 24 hours. I fell this is a great way to marinate and get something fresh. The chicken was savory from the elements of the Herbes de Provence you can taste the basil, sage, rosemary, and light hints of lavender. The citrus is lovely and bright. I added lemon to this recipe to cut the sweetness of the orange. I think it offers exceptional balance.
I really love how all of these items could stand on their own but they also complemented each other. I hope you will give these recipes a try! Let me know what you think. Rice pilaf is and will continue to be one of my favorite dishes in my repertoire. It is a dish everyone always wants seconds of, it is also a comfort food, and it is something I could enjoy just a bowl of and be totally contented with.
Have a wonderful week! It’s nice to see you all again!