Food Network's Alex Guarnaschelli Cooks With Rice

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Alex Guarnaschelli

Food Network Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

I know you know Alex Guarnaschelli. This busy mom is the host of Food Network's The Cooking Loft and has appeared as a judge on Chopped. She's also Executive Chef of a restaurant called Butter in New York.

Today Alex cooks with rice—showing us how to use this one everyday, inexpensive staple in three extraordinary recipes.


By Alex Guarnaschelli

I like to take one elegant ingredient and use in many different ways. One of my favorites is Long Grain Rice [see below for information]. It has a slightly floral taste and a firm texture that works well in a lot of different and simple dishes. These are also recipes that work well with leftover rice! Here are a few of my favorites:

Basmati Rice Pilaf

Serves 2-4

This is one of my "go to" basic recipes. When it comes out of the oven, I serve it as a side dish or simply stir in some cooked chicken or shrimp and some vegetables to transform it into a complete meal.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces

kosher salt

finely ground white pepper

1 cup Basmati rice

2 cups water

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the oil and butter. Add the onion, season it with salt and pepper to taste and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the onion softens and stir in the rice.
  2. "Toast" the rice for a minute by stirring it over high heat. When it starts to make crackling sounds, add the water. Adjust the heat until very low, cover and cook until the rice is done, 15-20 minutes. Do not stir it as it cooks or it might cook unevenly.
  3. Once cooked, use a fork (it will not break up the grains the way a spoon might) to stir the rice and taste for seasoning. Stir in cooked shrimp or chicken, vegetables or simply add more butter and serve immediately.

Beef Stir Fry

Serves 4

Sometimes I make a double recipe of the rice pilaf and use the remainder to make this stir fry. This is a great recipe for leftover rice and that remaining onion or any other vegetables that may be way at the bottom of one of your "crisper" drawers.

4 tablespoons Canola oil

11/2 pounds beef sirloin or beef tips, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 red onion, peeled, halved and cut into thin slices

1 bunch scallions, washed, trimmed and cut into thin rounds (green and white parts both)

¼ cup marsala

1 tablespoon Soy sauce

1 tablespoon smooth (Dijon) mustard

the juice from 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

  1. Heat a wok (or a large non stick skillet) over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place the beef in a bowl and season it with salt, pepper and the curry powder. Stir to coat the meat with the seasoning.
  2. When the oil begins to smoke, remove the pan from the heat, add the beef and return the pan to the heat. Stir the meat so it spreads out in the bottom of the pan and browns as it cooks. Cook for 2-3 minutes (or longer, if desired). Remove the meat from the pan and keep warm in a bowl.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and add another tablespoon of oil. Heat until the oil begins to smoke and add the onion and scallions. Season with salt and pepper and stir to coat the vegetables in the oil as they cook. Cook for 2-3 minutes, the scallions should wilt and the onions should soften. Stir in the zucchini and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the beef and keep warm.
  4. Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining oil over medium heat. When it begins to smoke lightly, add the cooked rice and use a spoon to spread it out in a thin layer so it browns. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until the rice browns. Stir from time to time. Note: You may an additional tablespoon or two of oil for this part of the recipe. If the rice seems dry or isn't browning, add a little oil.
  5. When the rice is finished browning, remove it from the skillet and transfer it to a serving bowl. Wipe out the skillet and add the Marsala and Soy sauce and reduce slightly, 2 minutes. Whisk in the mustard and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning. Add the beef and vegetables and toss to coat with the sauce. Put the beef and vegetables over the rice and serve immediately.

Basmati Rice Pudding

I find this so comforting or breakfast or dessert. I have made it with leftover cooked rice that I would have otherwise thrown away with great results.

1 cup cooked rice

1 cup whole milk

¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

1 cup coconut milk

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon honey (optional)

  1. Combine the milk, rice and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to blend and continue to simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the coconut milk, cinnamon and nutmeg and continue to cook until the liquid thickens and begins to coat the rice, 3-5 additional minutes. Taste for sweetness. Add honey, if necessary. Pour the rice into a bowl and cover with a tight layer of plastic wrap to prevent it from forming a skin. Or, alternatively, leave the rice to cool and form a skin on top and dust lightly with additional cinnamon before serving.


++Long grain rice, or specifically Basmati Rice, is usually available in both white and brown varieties and can be found in most supermarkets. If you don't have long grain rice, regular rice will work, too.

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