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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fruit and Nut Rice

I tried a similar dish in the most unlikely of places and I absolutely loved it and so did a friend of mine. I actually tried it at UVa's dining hall, where the food is usually downright depressing, but every now and then they have a nice surprise. In their version, there was a mixture of dried apricots, raisins, prunes, and dates. Since a bag of dried fruit you won't use otherwise is pretty pricey, I settled for what I had in the house--raisins and prunes (prunes are very tasty, by the way. Of course you can't eat too many ;)

Fruit and Nut Rice
1 cup long grain white rice
2 small boxes of raisins (1/2 oz - I believe this is just one box Sunmaid)
about 1/4 cup slivered or sliced almond or a mixture
about 6 pieces or so of large dried fruits, such as apricots or prunes. Dates would work well also. (do not cut them because the skin will boil off and it's much better to just cut it on ur plate if you need to)
1 sprig of thyme
1TB cinnamon (dominant flavor)
2 teaspoons allspice (maybe a third one. This should be one of the dominant flavors)
5 cloves
1/2 TB coriander
1/2 to 1TB salt
2 TB onion
1 clove garlic (you don't need more, the spices should dominate in this dish)
5-10 peppercorns crushed in mortar and pestle, depending on desired spiciness (or use regular crushed, but it's a lot less spicy)
1 TB grated coconut (preferably unsweetened, but I used sweetened and it was fine)
1-1/2 cups chicken broth (beef would likely work well also)
1/2 TB oil
1/2 TB butter

I cooked my rice with 1-1/4 cups broth using the uncovered method that's typical in Dominican cooking, but I think this dish is actually better covered since there isn't much in it to make it as moist as rice dishes with meat in them. The Dominican style is to cook the rice uncovered on medium, stirring constantly until all of the water evaporates. After this, you cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. This creates a drier, more separated rice and can sometimes create a nice crust on the bottom and/or sides of the pot (which is desired in Dominican cooking). In the case of plain white rice, I love this method. I think it's also great for rices prepared with coconut milk instead of water or broth and it also works well with rice and meat dishes like Locrio because of the extra moisture/fat from the coconut milk and meat respectively. In the case of this dish, the typical method or a rice cooker is just fine. In this method, bring rice to a boil over medium heat while stirring it constantly, then you cover it for 20 minutes over low heat (#2 on numbered stove dials). Whatever you do, do NOT uncover your rice in this method until you have let it sit for 10 minutes AFTER it has cooked for 20. This way, all excess moisture evaporates and rice continues to cook to perfection.

Enjoy and let me know how it turns out!

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