This pregnancy has brought out an incredible desire for my mom’s cooking. There are definitely worse (aka unhealthier) cravings to be had.
Unfortunately, she lives some 8 hours away. So me enjoying her food has been limited to a couple visits in between. In the meantime I set out to learn how to make some of the dishes I grew up on.
Although I grew up in Germany, my parents actually grew up in Russia (I was born there also). Therefore many of my mom’s dishes could be categorized as Russian cuisine. Just like this rice dish called Plov.
Plov a is fluffy rice pilaf with beef, carrots, onions and a unique spice blend. Originally it is an Uzbek dish that pretty much every Russian family knows and cooks. Traditionally it is cooked outdoors in a large cast iron pot (wok) over a fire.
A large non-stick pot or dutch oven works best for the stove-top version. The meat and rice are cooked layered and not stirred together until you are ready to serve the plov.
First the beef is browned, then onions and carrots are added. It’s worth to take the time to cut the carrots into matchsticks (instead of shredding them); this way they keep more bite and add to the overall texture.
The meat is then slow-cooked for at least 45 minutes – since no one likes hard, chewy pieces of meat in an otherwise fluffy rice dish.
Once the meat is soft, the washed(!) rice is spread over top with a whole head of garlic and cooked with additional water. When most of the water has evaporated, the pot is covered so the rice can finish cooking by being steamed. NO peeking!
Only once the rice has finished cooking and is soft are all the ingredients stirred together. This recipe make a large batch which lends itself perfectly for reheating or freezing.
My favorite way of eating plov has always been on the second day when it is slightly crispy from reheating (in a pan – not the microwave).
As a kid I always had to drizzle some ketchup over top but nowadays a few baby dill pickles on the side make the best condiment 🙂
- 1½ pounds stewing beef (or any inexpensive beef cut)
- ⅓ cup cooking oil (I like olive or avocado)
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 2½ teaspoons salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 5¾ cups hot water, divided
- 3 cups long grain rice (parboiled rice makes for great texture results)
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Trim any excess fat off the beef and cut into bite-sized pieces. Heat a large non-stick pot or dutch oven over high heat. Add the cooking oil. Once oil is hot add the beef and sear uncovered for about 7 minutes until meat is nicely browned. Stir often.
- Turn heat to medium and add chopped onion. Cook for about 5 minutes until onions soften.
- Stir in carrot matchsticks (you could shred the carrots but the matchstick size leaves more bite and texture), 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin and bay leaves and cook for another 5 minutes until carrots soften.
- Add 1¾ cups of boiling water, cover and simmer over medium low heat for 45 minutes until the meat is soft.
- In the meantime using a strainer rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear (this is essential for fluffy rice otherwise you risk ending up with sticky rice mush). Spread the rice over the meat, sprinkle with 1½ tsp salt and add 4 cups of boiling water (do NOT stir!). Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once boiling reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered until most of the water is absorbed (10 minutes).
- Cut the bottom off the garlic head to expose the cloves. Press garlic head into the center of the rice. Sprinkle the rice with 1 tsp coriander. Poke 8-10 holes into the rice to let the steam to escape and cover. Turn heat to low and cook until rice is soft.
- Remove garlic and bay leaves, stir gently to combine everything. Serve (with dill pickles) and enjoy!
Recipe from NatashasKitchen.com . Her site has helped me tremendously with cooking Russian meals that my mom never uses a recipe for.