Sunday, September 2, 2012

Shorty's Brown Rice

Last week I spiced up my rice with green beans and toasted pecans and now I present another option on that same theme from Susie Middleton's amazing new cookbook. Both recipes follow the same basic format (rice + vegetable + toasted nuts) and are equally delicious in very diverse ways. Whereas Chile Rice is reminiscent of Latin American and Mexican cuisine, this recipe rice calls up the flavors of Asia. The well-browned carrots and onions feel homey and hearty, but the ginger, garlic, and mint keep the dish fresh and bright. The toasted nuts make this hearty enough to be a light vegetarian main dish, but I served it with grilled chicken to make dinner feel complete for the carnivore that was my dining companion. (I had it sans meat for lunch the next two days.) I'm sometimes guilty of sometimes focusing more on the sides than the main event, so I especially love dishes like this that only leave me with cooking up a protein to complete a meal. After a few of Middleton's dishes in this vein, my imagination is running wild with ideas for my own grain + veggie + toasted nut side dishes (and hopefully yours is too).

Shorty's Brown Rice with Stir-Fried Carrots, Ginger, Mint, and Toasted Almonds
from The Fresh and Green Table by Susie Middleton
serves 4

1 cup short-grain brown rice
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch long and 3/8- to 1/2-inch-wide sticks
1 small onion (about 5 ounces), halved and cut lengthwise into 3/8-inch-thick slices
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and kept chilled
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, cilantro, or a combination of the two
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped or slivered

1. Fill a pasta pot two-thirds full with water (at least 10 cups) and bring the water to a boil. Rinse the rich in a fine-mesh colander or strainer and add it to the boiling water. Stir once and boil for 30 minutes. Drain the rice in a colander, shaking it to remove excess water, and return the rice to the pot (off the heat). Cover with a tight-fitting lid and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. (The rice will absorb the remaining moisture).

2. In a large nonstick stir-fry pan, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (it will loosen up), add the carrots, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt and stir well with tongs.

3. Cook, stirring only occasionally at first, and more frequently as the veggies begin to brown and the carrots are tender, 15 to 17 minutes. They will be somewhat firm but will have shrunk and become more pliable. (Don't be tempted to raise the heat; the carrots need to steam a bit before browning).

4. Lower the heat to low, add the ginger and garlic, and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from heat, add the butter, and toss gently until they melt and become creamy. Stir in the lime juice and immediately transfer the contents of the pan to the pot of rice and stir well. Season the rice with 1/2 teaspoon salt, add most of the fresh herbs and toasted almonds, and stir well. Serve garnished with the remaining herbs and almonds.

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