23 June 2010

Rice Pilaf with Shrimp, Chervil, and Basil

Gordon Ramsay, why do you yell so much louder on American television? Is this really what your market research tells you Americans demand?  This puzzles me: when I was living in the UK, the most common complaint I heard about Americans was how loud we talk. In New York, people tell me I'm soft spoken, so I found this curious, but chalked it up to yet another quirk of the British -- along with lack of heating in public restrooms and mayonnaise being a prime ingredient in sandwiches.  
Upon returning from Scotland, where Gordon Ramsay seems to be considered, dare I say, a heartthrob, I was mildly surprised to see him bellowing constantly on American television sets. I much prefer the UK-Gordon, chest baring aside, and he (or the people who work for him?) produce some nice food. This one pan rice dish was presented as a "healthy" recipe on the F-Word, and while large amounts of white rice don't necessarily fit into that category in my book, I do appreciate being introduced to new herbs, (hello Chervil) and the layering of flavor brought to this dish through the green herbs, along with the chile's, cinnamon, and saffron, keep the whole dish tasting fresh and light.
Rice Pilaf with Shrimp, Chervil, and Basil adapted from Gordon Ramsay
serves 4
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 red onions, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Zest of 2 lemons
2 thyme sprigs
6 ounces chorizo, diced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of saffron
1 Serrano or 2 thai bird chillies, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
8 ounces/1 cup basmati rice, rinsed several times and drained
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups hot fish or chicken or vegetable stock
8 ounces medium raw shrimp
Handful of basil leaves, finely sliced
Handful of chervil leaves, roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 C. Cut a circle of wax paper/parchment circle slightly larger than a heavy-based ovenproof pan or a cast-iron casserole. Snip a small hole in the middle of the paper to serve as a steam vent.

Heat the pan with the oil, add the onions, garlic, lemon, thyme leaves, chorizo, cayenne pepper, saffron and chille for 4-6 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the cinnamon stick and rice and stir well to toast the rice for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper and pour in the hot stock and bring to the boil. Cover with the paper and transfer the pan to the oven.

After 10-15 minutes, take the pan out of the oven, lift the paper and scatter over the shrimp, basil and chervil leaves. Re-cover with the paper and return to the oven for 4-5 minutes until the rice is tender and the shrimp are just cooked through and opaque. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for about 5 minutes before lifting off the paper.

Fork through the rice to distribute the prawns evenly, and remove the cinnamon stick. Check the seasoning and serve immediately.

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