Friday, October 24, 2008
Fruited Wild Rice: From My Family to Yours
Family dinners at my parents' home in Newport Beach can turn into quite the production. Ma and Pa H. raised a household of foodies, and we all bring lofty expectations when we gather together around the dining room table. This past Saturday was no different. What was supposed to be a simple meal centered around a barbecued pork tenderloin quickly turned into a feast fit for Tom Collichio himself. With both my parents and my hands in the pot, we created a rustic, yet refined meal of pork tenderloin with a balsamic shallot apricot sauce accompanied by a fruited wild rice. It was the perfect fall meal -- even if it was 80 degrees outside.
When my mother decided that we would dig on the pig Saturday morning, we were faced with the usual dilemma of a pork-based dinner. We knew we wanted to use the fabulous reduction from the Kitchn's Chicken with apricot-shallot sauce recipe, but struggled to come up with an appropriate side dish. Our favorite sweet potato casserole would be too cloying with the already sweet sauce, but baked sweet potato fries seemed too boring. As my mother and I sat in quiet contemplation, we serendipitously arrived at the same conclusion -- fruited wild rice.
With a twinkle in her blue, sometimes hazel eyes, my mom lept to her feet. "I have just the recipe!" She exclaimed, skipping across the kitchen floor toward the book shelf full of tattered cook books.
When she returned to the table with 365 Favorite Brand Name Stir-Fry by Publications International, I was a bit concerned.
"Um, Mom?" I said, my eyes glazed over with doubt. "That's a stir-fry cook book. We are having rice?"
She nodded enthusiastically as she confidently flipped through the earmarked pages to the fruited wild rice recipe. I looked over her shoulder and was aghast to see that it contained soy sauce.
"It's really good." She insisted. "When I made it for a potluck at school, it was the first dish gone."
My green, also sometimes hazel eyes, popped in surprise. "Before the desserts?" I asked. "And there were teachers there?"
She grinned in response, and I was sold. My mother and I were off to the store to track down all the ingredients.
As my parents and I settled around our oak dining room table that evening, I couldn't help but feel proud of our efforts. The pork, courtesy of my father, was tender and moist, my sauce was the perfect consistency, and the rice my mother and I slaved over together, was a cornucopia of textures and flavors. We all agreed that it was better than most of the restaurant meals we'd eaten recently. I'd like to say it's because it was "made with love," but I'm just not that cheesy. It was definitely because of the seriously righteous rice and my parents and my seriously righteous skills in the kitchen.
Fruited Wild Rice (From 365 Favorite Brand Name Stir-Fry)
(For approximately 4 side servings)
1 cup wild rice
*1/3 cup toasted pecan pieces
1 cup chopped onions
10 dried apricots, chopped
1/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries (we used dried cranberries)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
Red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon grated orange peel
*Original recipe calls for a mix of pecans, walnuts and almonds, but we only used pecans.
1. Cook wild rice according to instructions on box. For 1 cup of rice, use 2 cups of liquid -- preferably a combination of water and chicken broth so the chicken flavor is not too potent. Wild rice typically takes approximately 50 minutes to cook.
2. When the rice is almost done, heat oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions to skillet and cook until tender and translucent. Add apricots, dried cranberries, ginger, and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes.
3. While the onions and dried fruit mixture is getting hot and heavy, whisk together the honey, soy sauce and orange peel in a small bowl. Dump into the rice pan with the onions, fruit and toasted pecan pieces. Mix together and then serve. With love. (Or sarcasm.)