Thanksgiving is here and this year, and I am so busy that I am going to rely on my favorite dishes. Every year I make wild rice with chestnuts. These long, black grains have an extraordinarily earthy flavor. This was a comfort dish made by my mother when I was little and, although she is long deceased, making this dish helps me to feel close to her.
I decided to research wild rice. According to the International Wild Rice Association, “Wild Rice is an aquatic cereal grain that grows “wild” in an isolated lake and river bed areas located primarily within the continent of North America. It is also native to ecologically similar regions located on the continent of Asia. This evolutionarily ancient grain has been found in layers of the earth dating back some 12,000 years. In addition to its role as an essential food staple for ancestral peoples, it has provided a unique habitat for fish and waterfowl for thousands of years.”
Here’s my mother’s recipe for wild rice:
1 cup wild rice
Medium chopped onion.
1-2 stalks celery, diced
½ lb. mushrooms
A little bit of thyme or herbs de Provence
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken or mushroom broth
Salt to taste
1 lb. fresh chestnuts, either boiled or roasted and peeled or 1 package of roasted, peeled chestnuts from Trader Joe’s (this is a really great cheat)
Sauté the vegetables and thyme in butter till wilted. You can use oil, but really people- it’s thanksgiving. Add the rice and stir till covered with butter and combined with the vegetables. Add the broth, starting with 2 cups and then adding more liquid as needed. Add the chestnuts towards the end. Lower the flame and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. The rice should open up lengthwise when thoroughly cooked.
Serve as a side dish, or use it to stuff the turkey for a delicious gluten-free stuffing.
Optional: if you can’t get chestnuts, try slivered almonds. Throw in a handful of dried cranberries.
That’s it! Easy and afterward, when you have leftovers, you can make delicious pancakes by folding them into a light batter with beaten egg whites. Serve with that leftover cranberry sauce.
Click Here for a lovely looking recipe for Baked Acorn Squash Stuffed With Wild Rice and Kale Risotto from the New York Times.