No one ever asks if I’m making Grandma’s Rice, a buttery, cheesy rice pilaf studded with green olives, for Thanksgiving because it’s the law. I always make a lot so there’s leftovers. It was my Grandma’s tradition that she not only stuffed her guests, but they got food to take home for the next day. I won’t twist your arm to take food home like she did, but I make enough if you’d like to. Giving away our leftovers made my brother wince, but tradition is tradition. Now he always brings his own stack of take-out containers.
- 2 cups onions, diced
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 1 cup celery stalks with leaves, stalks diced, leaves minced
- 1/2 cup red pepper, diced
- 7 cups low-salt rich chicken or vegetable stock
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- 1 cup green olives with pimentos
- 4 cups of white, long grain rice
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a 4-6 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, melt 4 ounces of butter.
- Add onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent.
- Add celery stalks, celery leaves, red pepper and season with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the rice, then lower the heat and continue cooking and stirring until the rice loses it’s translucency and starts to smell nutty.
- Add the stock, bay leaves, thyme and olives, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, then stir to incorporate and put on the lid. Cook without stirring for about 20 minutes, until the stock is absorbed.
- Allow pilaf to sit for 5 minutes with the lid on.
- Stir in remaining butter and Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.
Yield: 8 servings
For Thanksgiving, I like to make the rice ahead of time and reheat it in a baking dish dotted with butter and maybe even some more Parmesan cheese.