It’s been a while (May 13) since I cooked with the wonderful group French Fridays with Dorie. But along with my usual late-to-the-party Saturday arrival, I’m changing up the ingredients and method this week as well. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe – creamy, cheesy, garlicky rice with spinach – is filled with fascinating background on the French and their ability (or possibly lack thereof ) to make risotto. This discussion alone is worthy of buying Dorie’s cookbook Around My French Table.
But Dorie turns the usual risotto method upside down by preparing it without constant stirring in a covered pot. I planned to go one step further and prepare it in a rice cooker . Then I discovered I was out of risotto rice, with the nearest grocery store at least 15 minutes away. So instead my rice dish is: Cheesy Garlicky Short Grain Rice with Cilantro and Lime. It’s kind of the same but not.
Since I prepared the best carnitas @dormantchef has ever eaten last night (blog post soon), I decided to adapt this recipe to my cuisine of the day. Instead of a Swiss-style cheese, I used the Mexican combo of Manchego, Asadero, Gallego and Anejo (don’t be impressed – I bought the Sargento Artisan Blend) and instead of spinach, I used cilantro. Instead of heavy cream, a bit of sour cream and a squeeze of lime for good measure. And well, instead of arborio rice, which I was sure I had, I used short grain Japanese rice because I always have at least 20 lbs. of that in the house. Here’s how I prepared it:
- 2 – 3 cups short grain Japanese rice
- 3 – 4 cups chicken broth (save a little for combining rice mixture)
- 1/2 small onion or 1/3 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- 1/2 – 2/3 cup mexican blend cheese
- heaping tblsp sour cream
- 1/2 of a lime
- 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
I made 3 cups of rice in the rice cooker, using about 2/3 of it for the final rice mixture. Meanwhile, I sauteed about 1/3 of a large onion and 2 garlic cloves in about 2 tblsps of olive oil, adding salt and pepper and a little chicken broth for flavor. Just before we were ready to eat, I reheated the pan with onions and garlic in it and added about 2/3 of the rice to the pan along with the cheese, sour cream, juice of about 1/2 a lime, and the chopped cilantro. I mixed it all until the cheese was melted and incorporated.
In Dorie’s recipe, she uses arborio (risotto) rice, but cooks it in a covered pot with chicken broth, rather than the constant stirring method. While the rice is cooking, she prepares the fresh spinach, then combines it all in the rice pot with the cheese and heavy cream. From all the wonderful posts so far over at French Fridays with Dorie, it seems that almost everyone loved the dish, describing it as comfort food at its best. Dorie also suggests using it as stuffing for peppers.
My version was a hit served with the carnitas – a relief since we eat so much rice and I rarely “add-in”. I was worried my critics would see it as blasphemy. But they loved it. And when I reheated the next day with a little more broth, cheese, and this time zest of the lime, the flavor intensified that much more.
To read more experiences with this recipe, check out the French Fridays with Dorie web site and buy Dorie Greenspan’s award-winning cookbook Around My French Table. You will cherish the purchase and learn from each recipe and story that she shares.