Monday, December 10, 2007

Spinach rice

This is like risotto for losers. It's pretty easy and is great if you feel lazy because it doesn't really use a traditional risotto technique or anything. I made this last night with roasted chicken and also this red cabbage-bacon-cranberry-pine nut thing that I made last year. It's in the 2006 posts, if you are interested. But I don't think I've ever written about spinach rice before, even though it is one of my standards, so here you go:

Take a big bunch of spinach (I use the flat-leaf kind rather than crinkly) and cut off the stems. Slice into strips or chop it up. Wash the spinach really really well--it is often muddy or gritty. You can dump it into a sink full of water, swish it around, and then dry it off well. I usually put it through the salad spinner, which I consider to be one of the rare kitchen gadgets that is actually worth owning. Anyway, chop and clean your spinach and set aside. Sauté 1 small minced onion in at least 1 tablespoon butter--since I was roasting a chicken, I actually ended up using the chicken fat from the bottom of the pan rather than just butter. You could use olive oil instead but some kind of fat is necessary. When the onion is soft and golden, add in 1 ½ cup short grain rice. I usually rinse the rice first but if you would like the consistency to be more starchy and risotto-like, don't rinse it at all. Sauté the rice with the onion for about 2 minutes, until the grains are sort of clear looking but not browned. Slowly add in 3 cups of chicken stock (or you could use a good vegetable stock), stirring it in well until it is up to a light boil. Turn it down to a simmer, cover and let the rice absorb all the cooking liquid--about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large pan, sauté 3 cloves minced garlic in olive oil (or butter or chicken fat) until golden then add a pinch red pepper flakes. Add in your cleaned, chopped spinach and toss with the garlic and pepper flakes over medium-high heat until it is all wilty. It will go from being a huge pile of raw spinach to, like, maybe a cup of cooked down greens. A fascinating thing to watch. After it is cooked down, let it sit a minute and then pour off any of the liquid that has accumulated, unless you like green spinach water. When the rice is all cooked, stir it around then add in the cooked spinach and mix it thoroughly so the spinach is all distributed and the rice is kind of green. Remove from heat and add the juice of one lemon and as much lemon zest as you feel like peeling off. You can never have too much.

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