French Fridays with Dorie: Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice w Spinach

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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.

A sneak preview of my carnitas

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.

French Fridays with Dorie

My version of Creamy Cheesy Garlicky Rice with Spinach

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.

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18 Responses to French Fridays with Dorie: Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice w Spinach

  1. Mrs. O September 18, 2011 at 5:16 am #

    I should have known not to come on here before eating breakfast. Now I’m hungriER!! Great pics of your great food. I’m stopping by from SITS.

    • omgyummy September 19, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      Wait till you see my Great Grains Muffins post – perfect for a breakfast on the run or snack anytime. Glad my photos make you hungry!

  2. Elly September 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Beautiful food photography! I’m excited to try this recipe as well 🙂

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    • omgyummy September 19, 2011 at 10:10 am #

      Thanks Elly! Carnitas post in the works… It was a great combination.

  3. Julie M. September 16, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    Oh how I love a plate of carnitas. This adapted rice looks like a perfect accompaniment! Thanks for checking in on my end. Things are good but busy. Hope you’re doing well!

    • omgyummy September 19, 2011 at 10:09 am #

      All is well but SO busy with the kids in school and @dormantchef traveling a ton. Trying desperately to get my carnitas post done – it’s a great easy recipe – totally do-able on a weeknight even.

  4. Teresa September 14, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Glad to see you back! I love your Mexican version of this rice recipe. It sounds so good – I’m having a craving for food from my favourite Mexican restaurant, just reading about it!

    • omgyummy September 19, 2011 at 10:08 am #

      It’s good to be back – I skipped the cinnamon crunch this past week – but if I make it, I think I’ll make it a bit different and do it as an oven-baked chicken.

      Hope you satisfied your craving for the Mexican food!

  5. Jamie September 12, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    This is a great interpretation!

    • omgyummy September 12, 2011 at 9:20 am #

      Thanks Jamie – I’m glad I tried it!

  6. betsy September 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Can’t wait to hear more about those carnitas! I love your tweaks to the recipe. I love Mexican flavors. And I was wondering how the rice would cook up in a rice cooker.

    • omgyummy September 12, 2011 at 9:19 am #

      Rice, even arborio rice, is wonderful in a rice cooker. When you do risotto in the cooker, sauté the onion/garlic or whatever first in the cooker as it warms up, then add rice and liquid and let it do its thing!

  7. Brenda September 10, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    OMG! Beth! This recipe looks mouth-watering good! I’m going to have to try it very soon. …..and the pork carnitas look delicious too!

    • omgyummy September 12, 2011 at 9:18 am #

      OMG! Brenda – it is mouth-watering good! Try it. Still trying to get a recipe out there that could possibly be as popular as your chicken recipe! (

  8. Tasty Mayhem September 10, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    I love cilantro in rice, so yor changes look great to me. We are big fans of carnitas, so can’t wait to see your recipe!

    • omgyummy September 12, 2011 at 9:16 am #

      I am such a cilantro lover – and the rice was a nice combination with the carnitas the second night. Definitely give it a try!

  9. dulceshome September 10, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I LOVE carnitas, so I’ll have to come back to see. Your sneak peek looks great as does your rice. I wondered about the rice cooker, but haven’t tried it. Looks wonderful, glad it was a hit!

    • omgyummy September 12, 2011 at 9:15 am #

      We eat rice all the time and actually have two rice cookers – normal size and humongous size. A couple years ago a foodie friend said they make risotto in the rice cooker in a pinch and it’s comes out great. You sauté the onion/garlic or whatever as the rice cooker warms up, then add liquid and let it do its thing. Great trick.

      Carnitas coming soon….

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