Many moons ago, I made a wild rice stuffing for my turkey that was delicious. However, this post is not about that. It’s about the leftover box of wild rice I’ve had sitting in my cupboard for those many moons (7 years!). While rice going bad isn’t something that I had ever really thought of, I was kind of surprised when I opened it and no weird odors or growths appeared. Then I moved onward with my plans to make a delectable rice laced with crisp green veggie slivers.
California wild rice is black, with a somewhat nutty, somewhat earthy flavor, and a texture that is the epitome of “toothsome”. And it’s fuss-free. “Add water to pot with rice. Boil. Drain.” are pretty much the instructions on the box. As a girl who often burned pots of rice dry, I can get on board with these directions. It’s much more like cooking pasta (which I’m very adept at).
But back to this pilaf. A few weeks back, I decided to treat the husband to a meal paired with a Chateauneuf du Pape. For the main attraction, I already had a plan. Duck magrets stuffed with foie gras, from the cookbook Rotis. I’ve been thinking about this pairing for nearly a year, so it was a no brainer.
However, I was stumped as to what to serve with the duck. Potatoes seemed easy, but a bit boring. My husband really loves rice, but I didn’t want to do just a white or brown pilaf. Again, boring. Then I remembered the California wild rice I had in my cupboard. That was my leaping off point, and the want for something green brought the brussels sprouts into the equation. They’re just now hitting the stores en force, and I had never really tried cutting them into the delicate slivers of leaf that I did here.
Stealing a technique I learned from my Chinese cookbook, I decided a quick flash fry of the sprouts in fat would do the trick. Normally, this would be an oil, but since I was already making duck, I decided using a bit of duck fat would be the perfect way to bring the meal together.
While this wasn’t made for a Thanksgiving meal, I think, whether made with a duck fat, a pork fat, or just an olive oil, this would complement Thanksgiving turkey. If I were planning a theme this year, I would use this as my starting off point, and go with a more “native” menu, borrowing a bit from California’s local foods, and a bit from my Native American cookbook for sides.
Wild Rice with Shaved Brussels Sprouts
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 white onion, minced
5 ounces California wild rice
1/2 tsp salt
1 scant tablespoon duck fat (or, substitute pork fat or olive oil)
1 cup brussels sprouts, washed, dried thoroughly, and cut into thin slivers
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Heat olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Saute onion until tender. Add rice, and coat the grains in the oil and onion by stirring. Add water (enough to cover the rice twice over) and salt, and bring to a boil, cooking according to package directions (usually somewhere around 50 minutes, simmered, covered).
When the rice is cooked, remove from heat, drain any excess water, toss with fork, then keep covered. Meanwhile, heat duck fat in a skillet over medium high heat. Add brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until brussels sprouts have turned bright green and are still crisp, but on the verge of wilting. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove from heat. Place the rice in a serving bowl, and top with the brussels sprouts mixture. Taste, seasoning with salt, pepper, and a bit of extra olive oil if needed. Serve immediately.
Vegetarian & vegan alternatives: Use olive oil or margarine in place of the duck fat.