Recently, I had the most difficult final during my time at Le Cordon Bleu in which I had to make an amuse bouche, appetizer, and entree. So I went with a Peruvian-inspired dish: citrus-marinated grilled chicken with a side of cilantro rice and tostones, or twice-fried green plantains. I figured, who else in class would bother breaking down and marinating a chicken within our limited time frame? Fortunately, it was a success: the chicken was super juicy and bright, complemented well by the savory but not-too-strong rice, and crunchy fried goodness of the plantains. The cilantro rice, very loosely adapted from Food Network, is below:
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
2 cups water
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1.5 tablespoons cumin
1 cup long grain rice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a food processor or blender, puree cilantro and garlic with 1/2 cup water.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan. Over medium heat, add onions and gently cook until fairly translucent, about 2 minutes. Mix in rice, coating well with oil and onions. Add cumin, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Pour in the cilantro-garlic puree and the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to simmer, about 8 minutes. Stir, then cover on very low heat, 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let the covered rice rest for at least 5 minutes (though no longer than 20 minutes). Fluff with a fork and serve.
What’s different about this: The biggest difference in my recipe is that I used water instead of chicken broth to cook the rice. Why? You’re cooking out all the liquid, anyway. Plus, this recipes calls for so many yummy aromatics – cilantro, garlic, onions, cumin – it doesn’t need a more-expensive but still-neutral cooking liquid. So save a few bucks and just use water.