Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rice Pilaf with Vermicelli

Recipe courtesy of Cooks Illustrated

Serves 4 as a side dish.

If you like, olive oil can be substituted for the butter depending on what you are serving with the pilaf. Soaking the rice overnight in water results in more tender, separate grains. If you'd like to try it, add enough water to cover the rice by 1 inch after the rinsing process in step 1, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature 8 to 24 hours; reduce the amount of water to cook the rice to 2 cups. For the most evenly cooked rice, use a wide-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. If you are using soaked rice for this variation, use 3 cups of water.


1 1/2

Cups basmati rice or long-grain rice

3 1/4

Cups water

1 1/2

Teaspoons table salt

Ground black pepper


Tablespoons unsalted butter


Small onion , minced (about 1/2 cup)


Ounces vermicelli , broken into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)


Medium cloves garlic , minced


Teaspoon ground cumin


Teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch allspice


  1. Place rice in medium bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches; using hands, gently swish grains to release excess starch. Carefully pour off water, leaving rice in bowl. Repeat four to five times, until water runs almost clear. Using a colander or fine mesh strainer, drain water from rice; place colander over bowl and set aside.
  2. Bring 3 1/4 cups water to boil, covered, in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add salt and season with pepper; cover to keep hot. Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat until foam begins to subside; add vermicelli and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove to small bowl and set aside. Add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter to pan and heat until foam begins to subside; add onion and sauté until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, and allspice to sautéed onion; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Add vermicelli and rice and stir to coat grains with butter; cook until edges of rice grains begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir hot seasoned water into rice; return to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 16-18 minutes. Off heat, remove lid, and place kitchen towel folded in half over saucepan; replace lid. Let stand 10 minutes; fluff rice with fork and serve.

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