Wednesday, July 13, 2011

West Indies Rice and Green Peas

I was tooling around the internet looking for something to make for dinner last night that used rice. My fall back rice dishes are things like black beans and rice (sometimes I add sausage) or my fave wild rice that I talked about in an earlier post with stuffed acorn squash. Most of what I found were recipes I had done before or was not interested in. When I added "hot pepper" to the search, I found a few recipes with a different sort of flare that included things like coconut milk and the amazing Scotch Bonnet pepper. I took an idea from this recipe, a bit of stuff from that recipe, combined it with the things I had on hand, and made this deliciously fragrant dish.

It turned out a little on the risotto side of creamy and I'd really rather the rice was more fluffy, but that's easy to fix and I've made the changes in the directions below. If you want it more risotto-like instead of fluffy, add your peas while still frozen about 10 minutes before the rice is actually done and short yourself a bit on the liquid at the start so that you have to add more a bit at a time near the end and stir a bit. That will creamy it right up and is exactly how I made it yesterday. How many servings depends on how you use it - as a side or as a main dish, do you have a small appetite or are you feeding teenage boys, etc. If you are concerned about calories and such make sure you use the lower fat coconut milk. If you want more nutrition, reduce the rice and increase the peas and onions...or consider adding slivers of carrots or sweet red pepper, which would be quite mindfully pretty.

West Indies Rice and Green Peas

Ingredients with some directions and commentary:

1 T olive oil
1/2-1 cup of chopped onion - all depends on how much you love onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups brown rice. Use the kind you like and trust to turn out right every time. Next time I will use Uncle Ben's quick to cook in 10 minutes brown rice as I know it will turn out fluffy for me as I frequently have a problem cooking brown basmati to a state of fluffiness. Not that this is bad it's just a taste thing for several in my family.
1 (one) de-seeded and diced Scotch Bonnett pepper, or 1-2 jalapenos ditto on dicing, or 1 jalapeno and 1 hot chili pepper, or 1 t crushed red pepper (use what you have or can find and do not touch a Scotch Bonnet unless you just love it when your mouth is on fire and you become a tad dewy - see note below on how to dice one safely)
1 t thyme
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, I use low or no sodium - this is one of those amounts that will depend totally on the type of rice you use so check your package for recommended amounts and remember that you are adding coconut milk to the thing.
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup peas - either fresh or thawed from frozen and room temperature

More Directions with Special Warnings:

In a Dutch Oven or heavy pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium and saute the onion til it is clear. Stir in the garlic and jalapenos (that's what I used as that's what I had last night - do not add the Scotch Bonnets here if you are using one of those) and saute for another minute. Add the rice and thyme and saute another minute.

Add broth and coconut milk (and Scotch Bonnet if you are using one), bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. When the water is almost completely absorbed add the peas. How long this takes depends on your rice. Quick cooking 10 minute Uncle Ben's or the 50 minute regular brown. When the rice is done, remove from heat, keep covered, and set aside til dinner. Fluff up before serving.

You might be one of those rice cooker people. The things leave me befuddled and I have failed in each attempt to use one. If you love your rice cooker you should be able to figure out how to make this recipe in one. Sauteing your veggies in a pan and then adding it to the pot with the rest of the stuff should work.

Warning Mr. Smith!!!!! If you have sensitive skin or just because somebody you know might be particularly delicate, do not touch the Scotch Bonnet while de-seeding and dicing. I put the hand holding the pepper inside a plastic sandwich bag so I don't actually touch the pepper. Some people use rubber gloves. If you touch the pepper or its seeds do not put your finger anywhere sensitive (like your eyes mouth or nose) unless you enjoy screaming in pain while your lips and nose are burned off.

Oh, I almost forgot - I don't use salt. If you do, add some at the end. But be mindful of how much you use.

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