This unusual rice pilaf makes a great side dish for baked chicken or grilled meat. The combination of sweet/savory and tart/buttery flavors is delicious. I imagine it would even be good using a prepared saffron rice mix (steamed, not boiled as this recipe calls for) in a pinch. But what I like about making your own saffron rice is that the flavor is subtle, and you avoid the MSG lurking in packaged products.
In any case, try this! It’s such a nice twist.
(Adapted from Food & Wine)
-1 c. basmati rice
-3 Tbsp. butter
-1 tsp. olive oil
-1/4 c. dried sour cherries, raisins, or dried cranberries (2 ounces)
-2 tsp. sugar
-1/3 c. sliced or slivered almonds
-1/4 tsp. saffron
-salt and pepper, to taste
1. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet on medium heat, stirring to prevent burning. Once brown, immediately remove almonds to a bowl.
2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the rice and cook until almost tender, between 8 and 10 minutes. Test periodically to ensure the rice retains a slight “al dente” bite.
3. Drain rice in a colander and shake to remove excess water. In a small bowl, dissolve the saffron in 1 tablespoon of hot water. Return the rice to the saucepan and stir in the saffron water. Season with salt and (ideally white) pepper.