Basmati Rice Cooked in Onions (aka soubise)
a more flavored version of the Julia Child classic, using basmati rice and saffron.
1 cup basmati rice
6 tablespoons butter, divided, second portion of butter optional when you finalize the dish
6 to 8 cups sliced onions (4 or 5 large ones)
Freshly ground pepper
Large pinch saffron
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish.
1. Bring saucepan of water to boil, and salt it. Add rice, stirring occasionally, until it loses translucence, about 5 minutes.
2. While rice cooks melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a broad, deep skillet or casserole that can be covered. Add onions, a large pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions just begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
3. Drain rice, leaving it wet. Add to onions along with saffron. Stir, turn heat to minimum and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes, or until onions are very soft and rice is cooked through. Don't stir for final 10 or 15 minutes, so bottom browns a bit. (If stovetop space is limited or you prefer the ease of baking the rice in the oven, you can use your oven for this step. Cover the pan and place in a preheated 325° F. oven.)
4. If you want to take this dish "beyond rice," 2 cups peeled and roughly chopped shrimp, or chopped chicken or pork is a good addition. If using any of those, add at this point, then, stir, cover again and cook until done, 5 to 10 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning.
5. Stir in heavy cream and remaining butter, if they are being used. Heat through once more, turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes or so. Dish will retain heat for at least half an hour, and can be reheated gently. Garnish with parsley, and serve.
Yield: 6 servings.
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