Cooking On A Budget: Rice Recipes

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rice Recipes

How to make a basic rice recipe

Making rice is simple and is a good alternate to potatoes. One two pound box of long grain rice yields approximately 19 servings. Cost of the rice is generally under three dollars for a 2 pound box. Compare that with a boxed rice mix that generally is $1.49 and up per box and yields about 4 servings and you readily see the cost savings.

For most of my cooking I use long grain white rice. What makes it delicious is what I put in it. I always use broth in place of water to impart flavor to the rice.

Here is my basic Rice Recipe:

1/4 cup diced onion (yellow or any that you like)
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. oil (vegetable, olive oil - whatever you have on hand)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup long grain white rice
salt and pepper to taste
2 pinches dried basil*
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes*

Melt the butter and oil in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the onion and stir. Cook the onion until it becomes translucent and add in the rice. Stir to coat the rice and add in the dry spices and the broth. Mix well, put the saucepan lid on and let it come up to almost a boil on medium high heat. When you see the first bubbles, turn the rice down to a simmer and keep the lid on during the cooking process. Check it at about 15 minutes, stir, and taste to see if you need a little bit more stock. The rice is generally done in 18-20 minutes. All of the liquid should be absorbed and the rice tender.

*Cooking on a budget meals - the dried spices will be the long range cost savers. However, if you prefer fresh herbs you could finely chop them and add them at the end of the cooking time.

Play with this basic rice recipe to achieve and compliment the flavors you are looking for in your dinner meals. For instance:

To make a Middle Eastern style rice add in turmeric, curry powder for an Indian style rice. If you are experimenting with Cajun or Creole cooking there are spice mixes already prepared and available now in most any market or grocery store. It is probably more cost effective to make a small batch for yourself from your pantry of dried spices. Keep your spice mixture in an air tight container and it should last up to 6 months.

Making your own Cajun or Creole spice mixes is easy. Generally the main ingredients would include: salt, pepper, paprika, granulated garlic, cayenne pepper and onion powder along with dried oregano.

To give your rice dish a special flair, add texture and flavors with the addition of the following:
1. Reconstituted dry fruits such as raisins, apricots, dates, etcetera.
2. Chopped nuts
3. Fresh chives, scallions or finely diced bell peppers. The diced peppers would be added during the cooking process, while the chives or scallions added at the end.

Remember, cooking on a budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice flavor or the way a dish looks.
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