Have you used Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice packages? Come on, fess up. After all, these rice packages come in a variety of flavors – everything from plain white rice to Rice Pilaf. Convenient? You bet. Shake/mix contents of package, slit corners to vent and pop in the micro-wave on high for 90 seconds. That’s it – quick and oh so easy.
When I’m trying a new main course recipe for the first time, the convenience of Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice often graces our table. Cooking times of many recipes vary – the recipe may say “30 minute”, but this timetable is often followed by those words of dread when preparing the first time around – “or until done”. Does that mean it could take 25 minutes if your oven cooks quick, or 45 minutes to reach that magical “until done” classification? With so much uncertainty, the convenience of a side dish that is zapped in the micro-wave for 90 seconds takes all the guess-work and potential side dish disaster out of the picture. After all, when bringing a meal to the family table, timing is a key factor. You don’t want your chicken to dry out while waiting for the rice to finish cooking, or for the side dish to become cold while waiting for the pork to reach temperature. Zip, zap, 90 seconds from pouch to table.
Still, nothing beats a side dish without the packaged, preserve riddled additives. Once I’ve mastered the time of the main entrée, I like to cook up the real deal – such as this delicious Long Grain and Wild Rice dish. The rices and seasonings can be mixed together days in advance, stored in your pantry in an air-tight container. All you need do is to dump everything into a pot, add the liquid, a kiss of butter and let ‘er cook for about 15 minutes or so. (See there it is again – the uncertainty factor).
Long Grain and Wild Rice
1 teaspoon dry chopped onion flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon dry parsley flakes
1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dry long grain white rice
1⁄3 cup dry wild rice
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
In a bowl, combine all of the spices.Add both kinds of rice. Stir to blend the rices with the seasonings. This dry mixture can then be stored in an air-tight container along with cooking instructions for later use or cooked up right away.
When ready to cook, place rice mixture along with all the seasonings into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add chicken stock and butter.
Bring to a boil, stirring to combine seasoned rice with broth.
Cover pan, reduce heat to a simmer and gently cook for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed into the rice.
Remove from heat and fluff with a fork before serving.