Saturday, November 26, 2011

Recipe: Rice Pilaf

Rice pilaf garnished with fresh sage

Rice pilaf is an easy way to add flavor to rice. When I was a kid, we called it "good rice." At its simplest, rice pilaf is just rice that's cooked in broth instead of water.

I like to start my pilaf with caramelized onion, which adds sweet, bitter, and savory flavors to complement the salt of the broth. I also toast the rice prior to adding the broth, which adds a nice nutty flavor to the finished pilaf.

This recipe serves 3-4.


  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups broth (I usually use chicken)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small pinch of thyme

Begin by heating a medium stainless steel saucepan on medium heat. You can also use a dutch oven for pilaf.

Once the pan is hot, add the oil. After perhaps 30 seconds, when the oil is hot enough to shimmer (but not smoking), add the chopped onion.

Add the broth after toasting the rice
Saute the onion for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to turn golden. Add the rice and saute for another 3-4 minutes to finish caramelizing the onion, and to toast the rice a bit. Grind in some black pepper, stir things around, and then add the broth.

Immediately add the bay leaves and thyme, stir again, and then taste the broth. The flavor of the broth is pretty close to what the finished rice will taste like (minus some of the herb flavors). Adjust for salt if necessary.

Bring the water to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer and finish the rice just as you would normally (cook for another 10-15 minutes until the rice is tender).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recipe: Skillet Fried Beaver Anal Glands

A tasty beaver with ripe young anal glands (Photo credit: NPS Photo)
Beaver anal glands have been a staple of the American diet for decades. In fact, you have almost certainly eaten many helpings yourself. You wouldn't know it, of course, since this fine ingredient is listed as "natural flavoring" on the back of most foodservice packaging. You can thank your congress for that. 

Disclaimer: This isn't a post featuring a recipe for skillet fried beaver anal glands (sorry, for those of you who really wanted to make this dish).

It is a post about how freeing Americans from excess government regulation is resulting in beaver anal glands (literally) being shoved down your throat without your knowledge.

How did I suddenly develop a keen interest in beaver anal glands?

It turns out I came across a blog by Bruce Bradley. Bruce is a former marketing exec who worked with heavy hitting corporate food giants like General Mills, Nabisco, and Pillsbury.

At Bruce's blog, you can learn about awesome lobbying successes such as disguising cow stomach, hair, feathers, and insects under innocuous-sounding ingredients like "enzymes," "cystine," "confectioner's glaze," and "natural red #4."

I thought you'd want to know.

Fried grasshoppers
And just to set the record straight, I'm not vehemently opposed to eating insects. My 7-year old made me eat some fried grasshoppers a few weeks back. They weren't bad. Tasted like shrimp.

But if I'm going to eat insects (or beaver anal glands) I want to know about it first. Is that too much to ask here in America?