Sunday, May 15, 2011

Savoury Rice

Hint number 27 from Mrs. Black is for the sensible people. Really. Unlike all of her other completely frivolous dishes calling for boiled ox liver. I kid. In fact, I continue to be impressed by Mrs. Black's modern philosophy of food (Organic, local ingredients, etc. Everything old is new again, etc. Luckily, we now have modern refrigeration, which helps considerably.)  Among other things, Mrs. Black doesn't believe you need to eat gobs of meat in order to survive, which is good for both your heart and your pocketbook.  Without further ado...No. 27. - Savoury Rice.

"I am going to give you a recipe for a dish or two suitable for those very sensible people who use little or no butcher meat, hoping that it will induce all my friends at least to diminish the quantity of butcher meat used, and supply its place with an increased vegetable diet.

"Chop up a good-sized onion, pour boiling water over it, and let it stand for about ten minutes, after that drain it dry. Put into a pot one teacupful of well-washed rice, a good dessert-spoonful of butter (or sweet dripping, which does quite well), a pinch of salt and a little pepper, the chopped onion, and two breakfast-cupfuls of water; let it boil slowly for nearly half an hour without touching it, and with the lid quite close. Then mix in 1 small table-spoonful of corn-flour, or common flour, 1 teacupful of milk, and one egg beaten up, add enough pepper and salt to season it, and stir it over the fire for a minute or two, turn it out on a dish, and brown the top either in the oven or front of the fire. For a change, two table-spoonfuls of grated cheese may be added to this, along with the other things at the last, or two table-spoonfuls of any kinds of cooked meat or ham chopped up. The dish will be found excellent either way, and most suitable for a summer diet."

I thought I'd actually try this one out since I was curious about what the final texture would be. Instead of boiling the onion, I sauteed it in a little olive oil, just like I would for a risotto. I used jasmine rice, which does cook in 30 minutes, otherwise I would have ignored the timing instruction and simply cooked the rice till al dente. After cooking the rice, I turned the heat up to high and added the other ingredients, stirring constantly. The flour, milk and egg bound the rice up very nicely. If I had added cheese, it would have been just like a macaroni and cheese texture, but with rice. It wasn't as creamy as I had hoped. Maybe a little more milk would have helped. It was very comfort food-y, though, and a great conduit for butter and salt. I oiled a casserole, put in the mixture and stuck it under the broiler to get it a little crunchy on top. I had some beautiful leeks and fava beans in the house, so sauteed them up and added a little proscuitto to add a little "butcher meat." Very tasty, comfort food dinner. Nothing fancy, but filling and a great use for leftovers. Perfect for a new housekeeper looking to feed a family on a budget.

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