Rice pilaf is one of those basic dishes that, once mastered, can become your most versatile. This simple recipe is an Armenian pilaf that we ate growing up. I still make this regularly, sometimes just as is, but jazzing it up with spices, vegetables, nuts and even dried fruits can take this so many steps further. First though, I’d love to share some tips and tricks to creating a perfect pilaf.
You can certainly prepare this with olive oil and sometimes I do, but honestly, I love butter in this recipe. You’ll brown the butter just to the point where it is deeply browned, but not burnt. Those flecks of browned butter and toasted egg noodles throughout the pilaf create the most warm and nutty flavor. Olive oil doesn’t give you that nuttiness. Chicken or vegetable broth are also essential. Whatever you do, do not use water. You’ll end up with a flat and tasteless pilaf no matter how much salt you add.
Another element of some pilafs, that I love, is that prized crusty layer of rice at the bottom of the pot. Every culture has their own name for it. Persians call it tahdig, in Spain it is referred to as socorrat. Honestly, if we have an Armenian name for it, I don’t know it. I do know…it can be yummy. This recipe doesn’t necessarily aim for that crust, but for those times I long for it, I’ve included my tips below on just how to get it!
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup uncooked fine egg noodles
- 1 cup long grain white rice (see Notes)
- 2⅛ cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- salt, to taste
- Melt the butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as the butter has melted, add the uncooked egg noodles. Stir continuously to coat all of the noodles with butter and to keep the noodles constantly moving to prevent burning them. Reduce the heat just a bit while continuing to brown the noodles. The goal is to get them as brown as possible without burning. Once the noodles are almost where you want them, reduce the heat to medium and allow them and the butter to continue to slowly get toasted.
- Add the rice to the pot and stir to coat each grain. Continue to toast the rice and noodles for another minute or two. Be sure to keep an eye on your heat. If medium seems too high, reduce the heat further.
- Add the broth, give the pot a quick stir and cover immediately. Raise the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes without uncovering.
- After 20 minutes, without uncovering the pot, remove from the heat and allow the rice to sit for five minutes.
- If you’d like to get a golden crust of crisp rice at the bottom, after the 20 minutes of simmering, raise the heat to medium. Stay close by and allow the rice to continue cooking for about 5 minutes. You’ll hear a bit of crackling. Remove from the heat and allow the rice to sit for five minutes.
- Just before serving, fluff with a fork.
Be sure to have all of your ingredients measured and in place when preparing this pilaf. Browning the butter and egg noodles goes quickly and can go from perfectly brown to burnt very quickly. Keep a constant eye on the pot during that step.
Don’t be tempted to uncover the lid or to stir the pot while simmering.