Trying to get a recipe out of my mother is like pulling teeth.
Mom doesn't follow recipes. After 50 years of cooking for her family, she doesn't need to.
She cooks instinctively, pulling ingredients from what we have on hand, making substitutions or additions as she sees fit. Taste testing here and there for a little more of this or that.
To get a recipe out of her I have to watch her make something, take copious notes, and ask a lot of questions.
For each seemingly innocuous question, there can be a dissertation's worth of answers. "Well, Adele Davis did it this one way, Diane Kennedy did it this other way, and I do it this way because (fill in the blank... my pot is too big, I'm using an electric range, we don't have any fresh cilantro.. etc., etc.)"
My mother is never one to give someone the time when a thorough explanation of how the watch works and how they made clocks in China 2000 years ago will do.
(Mom is a treasure trove of knowledge and I will never catch up to her, even if I cook every day for the next 40 years.)
Here is how my mother makes her rice pilaf. It isn't a precise recipe because much depends on the type of rice and the type and amount of stock you have.
But then again, rice pilaf is one of those foundation dishes that you can dress up in many different ways.
Watch This Easy Rice Pilaf Recipe
What is Rice Pilaf?
Rice pilaf most likely originated in Persia, in the region that is now modern-day Turkey. There are versions of the dish in many cuisines worldwide. In India, it's called pulao and while its ingredients vary from region to region, it's seasoned with traditional Indian spices. In England, it's known as pilau.
Rice is most commonly associated with pilaf, but different cultures use a variety of grains for pilaf. Rice and stock go into a pot, complemented by seasonings, herbs, vegetables and sometimes meat.
The Best Rice for Rice Pilaf
This recipe calls for white rice, preferably long grain, but you can use other types. The amount of liquid you add to the rice depends on the particular rice you are using. Look at the directions on your package of rice.
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Jasmine rice
- Basmati rice
Handy Make-Ahead Tip for Rice Pilaf!
Make this recipe up to the end of Step 3, then remove the pan from heat. It can sit this way for up to an hour. Then, boil the stock and pick up where you left off at the beginning of Step 4.
How to Store and Reheat This Recipe
Store cooled rice pilaf in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop, stirring frequently as it reheats. If the rice pilaf seems dry while reheating it on the stovetop, add a little stock.
What to Serve With Rice Pilaf
- Grilled Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
- Miso Glazed Salmon
- Classic Baked Chicken
- Grilled Flank Steak With Mushrooms
- Mom’s Perfect Pork Chops
More Easy Rice Recipes to Make in 30 Minutes or Less!
- Easy Boiled Long Grain Rice
- Indian Style Rice
- Easy Vegetable Fried Rice
- Chicken Fried Rice
- Ginger Pineapple Fried Rice
To save time, my mother heats the stock separately, at the same time that the rice is browning. This way the stock doesn't take as long to come to a boil when you go to cook the rice. But, you don't have to do it that way. You can easily add cold stock to the rice to cook it, it will just take longer to come to a simmer.
2 cups white rice, preferably long grain
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (or chicken fat)
1/2 cup chopped green onions or yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
Up to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth, or a mix of water and stock (amount depends on the type of rice used)
2 teaspoons kosher salt or seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat the stock in a saucepan:
Look at the cooking instructions for your rice. If your rice calls for 2 cups of water for every cup of rice then you will need a total of 4 cups of liquid. If your rice calls for 1 2/3 cups of water for every cup of rice, you will need a total of 3 1/3 cups of liquid.
Cook the rice in a liquid that is primarily stock—chicken stock or vegetable stock. Up to half of the liquid can be plain water, but at least half of the needed liquid should be stock. Homemade stock is the best, of course, and will make a big difference in the quality of the resulting pilaf.
Heat the measured amount of stock needed in a saucepan, at least 2 quart sized.
Brown the rice and add the onions and celery:
While the stock is heating, heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the olive oil (or chicken fat if you have it) to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the uncooked rice and brown the rice, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes.
When the rice has browned, add the onions and celery and cook a few minutes longer, until the onions begin to soften.
Add the salt, pepper, and cayenne:
If you are using canned or boxed broth, be careful of how much seasoning you add. We usually use homemade, unsalted chicken stock, so we add 2 teaspoons of salt or seasoned salt along with ground pepper and a dash of cayenne.
If you are starting with seasoned broth, you may only need to add a teaspoon of salt. Taste test the broth/stock. It can be a little on the salty side because the rice will absorb a lot of the salt.
Add the stock and cook the rice:
Pour the heated stock into the pan with the rice (or pour the rice mixture into the stock, depending on which pan has a lid).
Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and cook for as long as the instructions say on your package of rice. Usually between 15 to 25 minutes. Use a timer.
After the set amount of cooking time, remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes, covered. At no point during the cooking of the rice should you uncover the pan.
Fluff with a fork and stir in the parsley:
Fluff with a fork to serve. Stir in chopped parsley. You can also mix in heated peas, toasted almonds, or raisins to the pilaf to make it more interesting.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 3g||4%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||3%|
|Total Carbohydrate 17g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||2%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 7mg||35%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|