Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin and Wild Rice

I've really started to appreciate Native American influenced food and it is showing up more and more in the things that I serve in my home. As I've mentioned in previous recipes, the Native American influence on world cuisine is profound. As I'm cooking more and more traditional Native American dishes I'm also beginning to fuse it with other foods I prepare like Mexican, Portuguese, etc. Surely, some of those dishes will find their way into Chop Onions, Boil Water.

Wild rice, an important Native American food, is quickly becoming a favorite ingredient of mine. It has a great nutty flavor, a unique texture and it is packed with protein and vitamins to make it a great addition on your dinner plate. It's versatile and you can use it a number of different ways: rice dishes, stuffings, pancakes, etc. You can be sure I'm going to introduce more recipes that include it.

Due to the nature of its harvest, it is expensive compared to common white rice, (which is not a substitute). I recommend you avoid buying it in your local grocery store because it is usually overpriced there (much like saffron), compared to online outlets or even Trader Joe's.

The recipe below is a great introduction to wild rice. When using wild rice it is not uncommon to cut some white rice into it. In this recipe I use a 2:1 wild rice to white rice ratio. It's possible to alter this ratio to 8:1 white rice to wild rice and still get plenty of flavor and texture of the wild rice. So feel free to back off if on the wild rice if you prefer.

The onions and roasted pumpkin certainly don't hurt this dish at all and if you like it a little sweeter, feel free to add more maple syrup or honey. This is a great pairing with smoked meat, roast chicken and the like. I'm having some with sirloin tips this evening.

Roasted Pumpkin and Wild Rice

1 cup wild rice
1/2 cup medium grain rice
1 2 to 2-1/2 lb. sugar pumpkin (seeded, peeled and cut into 3/4" to 1" pieces)
2 slices bacon (cooked, chopped, fat reserved)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1/2 cup chicken stock.
1 TBS peanut oil
3 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup (use the real stuff, go with darker or grade B)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


Bring 8 cups of cold water to boil. Add 2 TBS salt and the wild rice. Cook the wild rice at a gentle boil for 35 minutes.

When the 35 minutes is up add the white rice and continue gently boiling for 15 minutes.

When rice is finished cooking, strain and rinse with hot water.

While the rice is cooking:

In a large roasting pan or dutch oven combine the pumpkin, onion, bacon, chicken stock, salt and pepper (to taste), bacon fat and peanut oil. Toss all ingredients to coat evenly.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup over the pumpkin pieces. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After the pumpkin and onion mixture has baked for 30 minutes, remove the foil and return the pan to the oven. Roast for about 30 minutes.

When the pumpkin and onion mixture is tender and starting to brown, remove from the oven. If pumpkin has not begun to brown, place it under the broiler for a few minutes. Be sure to keep and eye on it so it does not burn.

When done, remove from the oven. Add the rice mixture and 1-2 tablespoons of the remaining maple syrup, toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve hot.

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin and Wild Rice from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

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