Saturday, June 24, 2006

Back To Basics

My week is finally over! To those that had to put up with me these last few days (the three of you know who you are), I extend my sincerest apologies and gratitude for your patience. My talk is done, working 15 hour days is done (for now). I have not been home in a while. I have not been in my kitchen for a very long while. Needless to say, I have no food in the house. This Saturday (my work-free Saturday!), was time for comfort food.

I cannot believe I am about to do this. I cannot believe that I am about to reveal my family’s super secret recipe for one of my favorite comfort foods. Can’t stop myself! It’s too much fun to make, and feels like home to eat.

Below is my grandmother's original recipe for chicken rice pilaf (pronounced plov in Russian). Plov is actually a Georgian dish (not the Georgia with Savannah in it. The other Georgia) and is typically made with lamb. [FYI – all good Russian food is actually Georgian in origin. Really. Ask any Russian person]. Russian food is not known for liberal use of spices. Actually, Russians hardly use any spices at all in their cooking, unless you count dill. Salt, pepper, and garlic are the only spices in my grandmothers’ repertoire. Her plov is flavored only with garlic. Potently flavored, mind you.

Plov is one of the first things that I learned how to cook and is one of the first things I truly enjoyed cooking. This is when people would normally insert "first learned to cook when I was 10 years old." Sadly, no. I was 25...
It is basic, simple, and comforting, especially for someone in my current condition - burned out and mostly brain dead from too much thinking. I usually have all the necessary ingredients on hand, making it the perfect food to turn to when thinking hurts too much.

Super Secret Family Recipe
Chicken Rice Pilaf (or Plov)

~3tbsp olive oil
2 medium carrots, grated
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 ½ cups long grain white rice (I use Basmati)
6-8 very large garlic cloves, sliced very thinly
~2 cups chicken stock

1) In a medium sized stock pot (I use a 3qt pot), sauté grated carrot and onion in olive oil until the onion is softened.
2) Add chicken and season with a ton of freshly ground black pepper. Don’t be shy – there is not a whole lot else to add flavor. Cook while stirring until chicken turns white on the outside but is not necessarily cooked through (see picture), while listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s at top volume.

3) Thoroughly wash and drain the rice. Add rice to the top of the carrot/onion/chicken mixture in an even layer.
4) Add chicken stock to cover the rice by about a centimeter. Season with salt.
5) Bring to a boil. Lower heat to low (as low as it will go), cover, and cook for about 30 min, or until the chicken stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.
6) Spread the garlic on top of the rice, cover, and allow garlic to steam approx 5 min.
7) Take of the heat, stir in the garlic, adjust the salt.
8) Eat on the couch while watching the stupidest (and awesomest) movie you have laying around while brain recovers from the tortures of the week. My stupid movie may have had something to do with White Castle… Don’t judge me too harshly.



michelle said...

I hear ya, sweetie! Congrats on finishing up your talk (I'm assuming you're both in the sciences, right?), and thanks for passing down a fabulous-
looking recipe - your grandmother should be proud, it look so yummy! Get lots of relaxing in (stupid movies are great for that!) - sounds like it's much deserved!

Bakhodir said...

Plov is not russian or georgian dish. Not by any means. First of all, it is pronounced "Osh-Polov", some refer to it as Osh and others as Polov. Russians call it Plov, because they can't or not willing to pronounce it right. That's where the English pronunciation comes from. Osh-Polov is a national dish of Uzbeks in Uzbekiston-->note the correct spelling of the country. There are so many variations of Uzbek polov, that even I have not tried all of them. I am a native Uzbek. Polov is also cooked by Tojiks in Tojikistan and Turkmens in Turkmeniston, as well as Uzbeks residing in Afghaniston and even Eastern Turkiston of China. Georgians and russians may just know the recipe, but they know better about the origins of this dish.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. This is how my mom prepared it back in Kazakhstan. I haven't cooked it for years but I will give it a try tonight. Thanks again.