Wild Rice

Not a rice at all, but that does not matter, since no one is going to call it Zizania palustris or aquatica, which is what it is, an annual aquatic grass that should be harvested in the wild by hand (see Resources) for best flavor and tender texture.

I could never figure out why the wild rice in most restaurants rarely tasted very exciting, certainly not exciting enough to justify its expense. So before writing this recipe, I looked in my favorite general-purpose cookbook, The Joy of Cooking, to see what it said. Once I got past the “Wild Rice Popcorn” to serve with drinks, I looked at the basic wild rice recipe: it was for plain boiled, which completely explains the boring rice. For wild rice to be worth its salt, it has to be toasted in the oven after it is cooked in water.

I don’t agree with the pilaf method of cooking it, with measured water (4 cups water to 1 cup of rice), because who knows how much water that rice really wants? And the pilaf method can produce a musty flavor.

Use only the longest-grain, highest-quality rice. The broken-up ends of wild rice are a waste of money. And remember, 1 cup of raw rice becomes 2 to 3 cups cooked.

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Ingredients

Method

Wash the rice in a large bowl with enough water in it to cover the rice by 4 inches. Run the water gently over the rice until the water runs clear, skimming off any debris that floats to the top.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the rice in a gallon of boiling salted water, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well.

Transfer the rice to a shallow casserole or roasting pan, add the melted butter, and then mix the butter and rice well with your hands so that all the grains are separated. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring the rice and turning it over from top to bottom every 5 minutes, until the rice is fluffy and you can smell the nutty aroma of toasted wild rice.

This is delicious when served with kasha (buckwheat groats) cooked as described.

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