Beer and Rice – They Go Together
While I was in grad school, I ate rice by the bucketful: steamed rice, vegetable fried rice, brown, white, wild, rice and beans and meatless gumbo. I ate it wrapped in tortillas and banana leaves, and I ate it with fruit and vegetables and nuts.
On rare occasions, I was able to afford barbecued pork fried rice. But mostly it was a cup of cheap white rice with a sad can of black beans as I huddled next to my dim candle, alone in my drafty efficiency. As you might imagine, after I graduated and got a real job, I vowed I’d never eat rice again. And for almost 15 years, I kept that oath. And then came my fall…
A few years ago, I was tricked into eating a rice dish. My friend Amelia, who was hosting the pool party I was attending, shoved a plate at me heaped with barbecued short ribs slathered with a dark tangy sauce. I scarfed down the ribs, and then used a roll to sop up the tasty sauce. It was then that my long years of abstinence ended: Rice was lurking beneath the glorious ribs. But my horror soon turned to amazement at the deliciousness of the rice, even without the sauce (the bits beneath the ribs were untainted).
I asked Amelia how she’d managed to make rice taste good, and she shared her secret with me: beer. Well, and a darned good rice pilaf recipe.
I’ve made it several times since then, much to the astonishment of my long-time friends. I’ve found that the extra-special secret is using a high-quality dark beer with a good yeast content, the kind you might find at a local brewery
Beery Rice Pilaf Recipe
Although the alcohol burns off when you cook it, the rich, smoky flavor of the beer works with the broth to infuse the grains with flavor with beery goodness. This dish is easy to make in the rice cooker and goes well with almost anything, including pork, fish or meat.
- 1 cup long-grain white rice, uncooked
- 1-½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- ¾ cup high-quality beer
- ¼ + ¼ teaspoons salt, divided
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup onion, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup almond slivers (not slices)
Add rice, broth, beer and ¼ teaspoon of salt to your rice cooker and set the timer for 45 minutes.
While you are cooking rice, heat the butter and olive oil in a large pan until the butter is melted. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until onion is transparent, about three minutes.
Add the carrots, raisins, nutmeg, pepper and remaining salt. Sauté for five minutes.
Carefully remove the rice cooker lid and add the vegetable and fruit mixture to the rice and liquid. Add the almond slivers. Mix well.
Steam rice for a total of 45 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender.
You really do want to select your beer carefully. Budweiser isn’t going to do it—when the alcohol burns off, there’s almost no flavor left. If you can’t find good beer near you, consider joining a microbrew beer of the month club. If you’re intimidated by the idea of joining a beer club, head for a site that lists beer club reviews.
Check out more great rice cooker recipes.