Traditional Southern cooks make pilau by browning rice in oil, then simmering it in stock. But chef Anne Quatrano, of Atlanta's Bacchanalia, skips the browning and cooks sweet, delicate Carolina Gold rice with okra and shrimp to create a satisfying main dish. She likes the Carolina Gold rice from Anson Mills (ansonmills.com).
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2 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 cups Carolina Gold or other long-grain rice (14 ounces), rinsed
1 medium tomato—halved, seeded and diced
1/4 pound okra, trimmed and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Hot sauce, for serving
How to Make It
In a large, heavy casserole, cook the bacon in the olive oil over moderately high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon; reserve it for another use. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme sprig and crushed red pepper to the casserole and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Add the rice and return to a boil, stirring. Cover and cook over low heat until the rice is barely tender and still quite soupy, about 12 minutes.
Add the tomato and okra to the casserole and cook until it is just tender, about 4 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and curled, 3 to 4 minutes; the rice should still be a little bit soupy. Discard the thyme sprig and bay leaf and remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley and butter and serve, passing hot sauce on the side.
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