Everything about Armenian food!

Celebrating a heritage of Armenian recipes


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How to Make Perfect Pilaf? Keep a lid on it! (AND SEE THE VIDEO!)

Confession: I'm a pot peeker. At least, I used to be.

For many years, my pilaf-making was hampered by my natural curiosity as well as my determination never to leave well enough alone.  I couldn't resist lifting the pot lid and stirring things up.

The result was rarely good. My pilaf was either soggy or crunchy -- or both.

I don't have to guess that a professional cook would have been appalled, because I know she was: Robyn advised me early and often  to keep my hands in my pockets while the pilaf was simmering. In pilaf as in many things, I learned slowly.

But I did learn -- and we're both glad I did! It's a simple thing, really, but it works. My pilaf is now consistent, not to mention highly digestible.

Here's my simple method for making bulgur pilaf. The same technique and proportions apply to rice, except you have to cook it longer.(Follow directions that come with your rice of choice.) The result is never sticky, greasy or wet.

Of course, if you like your pilaf sticky, greasy or wet, adjust accordingly!


Better yet, view the video by clicking here.

PERFECT PILAF (serves five as a side dish)
Ingredients:
1 cup medium (#2) bulgur
2 cups broth or water
2 tablespoons olive oil (or two pats of butter)
1 handful of pilaf noodles (or vermicelli, orzo or your noodle of choice)
salt and pepper (ex: Aleppo red pepper) to taste

Directions:
Pour oil into saucepan and turn up the heat to medium-high.
Add the noodles and stir. Stay close and keep stirring until the noodles start to turn brown.
Add the bulgur and stir thoroughly. This is what makes it pilaf: coating the grains.
Toast the mixture like this for a minute or two, then slowly pour in the broth. Be careful to stand back, or take the pot off the heat to avoid a steam bath.
Add salt and pepper, stir once and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat to medium, put the lid tightly on the pot. Let it all simmer for five minutes.
Then turn off the heat but leave the lid in place. Let the pilaf sit 10 minutes longer.
NOW you can take the lid off. You should find perfectly cooked bulgur pilaf that's moist but shows no excess water.
Fluff it with a fork and serve hot!

Serving note: Who says pilaf has to be a side dish? There's no more satisfying dinner than bulgur pilaf with a nice Armenian salad, fresh bread and cold madzoon. Make it with water or vegetable broth and you have a meatless feast suitable for any time of year.

27 comments:

  1. To add to Doug's last comment--you can always fortify the pilaf with extras. Sliced onions (fried with the noodles) and diced tomatoes. Diced bell or chili peppers. Meat or chicken chunks. Chick peas. Pre-cooked brown lentils. Spinach or swiss chard (fried with the noodles or pre-blanched). A handful of fresh chopped basil for color and flavor. Pitted golden prunes or tart dried apricots. Some walnuts or raw peanuts (fried with the noodles). Etc. etc.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So true, Ara. The possibilities are endless!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am a seasoned cook, and yet this video/recipe and Robyn's no-peek "secret" resulted in the best rice pilaf I have EVER made. Great post, guys.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Gina and Bonnie. Your comments are much appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
  5. http://www.facebook.com/foodkingdom
    ------------------------------------------
    This is excellent, finally a food portal which understands what food lovers are looking for. Best wishes and congratulations to the Food Kingdom team!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I came upon this site to look up that recipe that the Kardashians made today and came upon this awesomeness. I made pilaf with my Armenian grandma many years ago and kept nodding my head as you mentioned keeping the lid on, using chicken broth, yadayada. Thanks for the smile today. I'll certainly visit this site frequently!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Glad you found us Kim! If you have any recipe requests, let us know. We try our best to find lost Armenian recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow, you're right. It comes out perfect. So easy and delicious! Thank you!

    My dad always made pilaf with Uncle Ben's Converted Rice; it tasted good, but when I think of the nutritional loss from substituting processed rice for bulghur -- oh, no! I wonder if there was a period when my grandparents couldn't find bulghur and adapted, or if they were trying to Americanize their pilaf? I'll have to ask my dad about this.

    I'd also add that plain bulghur is delicious with yogurt and honey on it for breakfast!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jennifer, my mom used Uncle Ben's, too. It must have been a generational thing. It was really good, but bulgur is so much better!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you! I brought 2kg of lovely Turkish coarse bulgur home and was having no luck at all with it - this recipe is perfect!

    ReplyDelete
  11. i have seen a lot of pilaf recipes that call for uncle bens converted rice. my mom makes it the traditional way. me i have tried to make pilaf many times and it comes out hard crunchy wet sticky or looks like white rice. i am going to try this recipe and see if if it works

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for this recipe. I have only had Armenian rice pilaf once when my cousin made it, and it was wonderful! I tried to make it to no avail. I too am a lifter of the lid :) Thanks for the tips....also, hopefully there is more flavor this time when i try it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Serena, taste a teaspoonful of the broth right after you add it to the rice and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Now cover the pot and don't peek. If the broth is flavorful, your pilaf will be delicious. Trust me; it works.

      Delete
  13. Thanks for a great site! Fantastic recipes....please add some spicy fish stuff....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Much appreciated, Ed! I'll look into spicy fish recipes just for you.

      Delete
  14. Thanks so much for you time on these great recipes. I'm half Armenian and half Greek and lost my mother and this food brings back good memories. Godbless You

    ReplyDelete
  15. Just came across this fantastic sit when i was looking for a homemade marzipan recipe....and going through your site I totally forgot what I was looking for. I am a Guruntsi Armenian from Aleppo and live in Kuwait and crossing your way really made me very proud Vartskernit gadar yev tserkernout talar

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary, Thank you so much for the 'blessing'.
      Did you happen to read the post about Badem, the homemade marzipan treat? http://www.thearmeniankitchen.com/2012/05/badem-marzipan-treat-for-special.html

      Delete
  16. By the way...there is nothing better than Armenian madagh pilaf

    ReplyDelete
  17. Please, someone tell me technique for boiling the whole chicken to make stock! I know it sounds silly but my grammy just boiled the chicken and all I remember being in the pot with the chicken is water! No onion, no celery...just a whole chicken! Any suggestions or is my memory failing me at an early age?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you want a very plain chicken stock, follow your Grammy's recipe. To boost the flavor, add carrots, celery, onion, peppercorns, bay leaves, some salt. After cooking the chicken in the stock, remove chicken allowing it to cool.Remove the meat from the bones. Refrigerate chicken until ready to use. In the meantime, strain the veggie solids, whole seasonings, etc. Place stock in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Next day remove and discard layer of chicken fat. Stock will be ready to use.

      Delete
  18. Tara KouyoumdjianApril 4, 2015 at 9:27 PM

    Absolutely Delicious!!! Thank you so much for posting this and other recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dearest Robyn, I hope you're still out there; you are truly a SWEETHEART! I've trudged through many a site for a bulgur recipe and NEVER has the author and host of a site been so diligent and responsive- about so many different suvjects. Bless you! I am going to read more of your recipes later. The only hint I can leave is one I gave my Mum just before she passed away...To keep .homemade chicken broth/soup from looking like dirty dishwater, add a bit of tumereric.. All the Best, Trish

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Trish, I'm still here! Thank you for your kind words and the tip regarding the turmeric - that's something I didn't know.

      Delete