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Wild Rice Pilaf with Dried Cranberries and Pecans

With its nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture, wild rice is a welcome addition to the winter table. It is not a true rice but rather the seed of an aquatic grass that still grows wild in the northern Great Lakes area of the United States. In this recipe, wild rice can be mixed with short-grain brown rice, which is chewier and sweeter than long-grain brown varieties. This pilaf is also delicious when made with all short-grain brown rice; unlike white rice, it has not been processed, so its nutritious outer coating remains intact.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. canola or grapeseed oil
  • 3 large shallots, minced
  • 2 cups wild rice or 2 cups short-grain brown
      rice, or a mixture
  • 1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs or 1⁄4 tsp. dried thyme,
      crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground white pepper, plus
      more, to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the stock to a simmer.

In a heavy 2-qt. flameproof casserole over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the simmering stock, dried cranberries, bay leaf, thyme, the 1/2 tsp. sea salt and the 1/8 tsp. white pepper. Bring to a simmer, stir and cover. Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Remove and discard the bay leaf and the thyme sprigs, if used. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stir in the pecans and parsley. Serve hot or warm.
Serves 8 to 10.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Christmas, by Carolyn Miller (Simon & Schuster, 2003).