Make this recipe once, and I’d be willing to bet you will make it again and again for the rest of your life. It is the perfect way to make a moist (but never sticky), buttery (but not cloying), flavorful (but goes-with-anything) rice. It’s infinitely easier than risotto, and much, much better than boiled rice.
I adapted this from a recipe by Pierre Franey, the French-born chef who wrote the “60-Minute Gourmet” column in the New York Times in the 1970s and ’80s. I’ve probably made it more than a thousand times in my life. The basic ingredients are butter, onions, garlic, rice, chicken stock, and thyme. You can vary the seasonings and ingredients, just as Franey did: He’d toss in apple and curry for a Riz à l’Indienne, turmeric for Riz à Tumerique, pimiento or roasted red pepper for Riz aux Piments, Parmesan (after the rice is cooked) for Riz à Parmesan, and pine nuts (after cooking) for Riz avec Pignolats. You get the idea—though the basic recipe is exquisite in itself.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup long-grain rice
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
Preheat oven to 425°F. Melt the butter in a medium flameproof, ovenproof pot with a heavy lid (I use the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven)* over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender but not brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and thyme; cook and stir about 1 minute more (grains should start to cook a bit but not brown, and should glisten with butter). Add the chicken stock and then the bay leaf; stir to break up any clumps of rice. Bring to a boil.
Cover the casserole tightly and slide it into the oven. Bake the rice for 15 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Serve immediately or let stand, covered, in a warm place (such as on an unheated back burner) for up to 20 minutes more. Remove bay leaf and stir with a fork before serving.
* Although I adore my Le Creuset French oven for this, any stovetop- and oven-safe pan with a lid will do. If you don’t have one in your batterie de cuisine, check out this inexpensive option from Cuisinart:
This pan is oven-safe to 550°F.
PS: Any-Night Baked Rice is just the kind of easy, everyday French cooking that you’ll find in my cookbook, The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day.
Give it a look!