Any-Night Baked Rice

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.

Any-Night Baked Rice. Photo by Deb Wiley, who won my photo contest for this recipe.

Any-Night Baked Rice. Photo by Deb Wiley, who won my photo contest for this recipe.

 

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

Ingredients
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!

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