Cook's Country (November 2010)
So it was with some trepidation -- and with expectations very much in check -- that we approached this recipe for Wild Rice Dressing.
What we found shocked us.
We loved this dressing!
Erase whatever you're thinking about Wild Rice Dressings. Forget the pilafs you've had in the past and the bland rice salads that have dotted plates at picnics and dinner parties.
This is a serious contender for your Thanksgiving table.
We loved the accompanying story about this dish in Cook's Country because it embodies all the things we love about America's Test Kitchen and their recipe testing. The author -- Ian Knauer -- makes the dressing with a cream and egg custard and finds that it's delicious but too rich. The solution is to cook the dressing in equal parts cream and the water in which the rice was cooked.
The result is a wonderfully savory rice dish with a crunchy, breaded topping. (It's so savory, in fact, that several guests asked if there was Parmesan cheese in the dish.) We opted for the variation that included Dried Fruit and Nuts, adding toasted pecans and dried cherries. Other variations in the magazine call for a plain Wild Rice Dressing or one flavored with Leeks and Mushrooms.
Earlier this year we made a Wild Rice Pilaf that we loved. At the time, we said that the dish was good enough for a place the Thanksgiving.
It looks like it'll have to fight with this Dried Fruit and Nut Wild Rice Dressing for a place on our table.
WILD RICE DRESSING
Serves 10 to 12
Depending on the brand, wild rice absorbs varying quantities of liquid. If you have less than 1½ cups of leftover cooking liquid, make up the difference with additional low-sodium chicken broth.
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 cups wild rice
10 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped fine
3 celery ribs, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1½ teaspoons dried sage
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1½ cups heavy cream
2 large eggs
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
COOK RICE. Bring broth, water, and bay leaf to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until rice is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Strain contents of pan through fine-mesh strainer into large liquid measuring cup. Transfer rice to medium bowl; discard bay leaf. Reserve 1½ cups cooking liquid.
TOAST BREAD. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Pulse half of bread in food processor until pea-size pieces remain and transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bread and another rimmed baking sheet. Bake bread crumbs until golden, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through baking. Cool completely, about 10 minutes.
SAUTÉ AROMATICS. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and celery until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, sage, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in reserved cooking liquid, remove from heat, and cool 5 minutes.
ASSEMBLE AND BAKE. Whisk cream, eggs, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Slowly whisk in warm broth mixture. Stir in rice and toasted bread crumbs and transfer to 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Melt remaining butter in now-empty skillet and drizzle evenly over dressing. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake on lower-middle rack until set, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove foil and let cool 15 minutes. Serve.
MAKE AHEAD. Assembled dressing can be refrigerated in baking dish, covered, for 1 day. To finish, melt remaining butter, drizzle over dressing, and proceed with recipe, adding 20 minutes to baking time.
DRIED FRUIT AND NUT WILD RICE DRESSING
Prepare Wild Rice Dressing, adding 1½ cups chopped dried apricots, cranberries, or cherries and 1½ cups chopped toasted pecans with bread crumbs in step 4.
LEEK AND MUSHROOM WILD RICE DRESSING
Prepare Wild Rice Dressing, replacing onions and celery with 4 leeks (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise and sliced thin, and 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced thin.