Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

Call of the wild

Our American Indians really knew what they were doing when they paddled their canoes into the wild grasses growing in some of the shallow Minnesota lakes and did the arduous work of knocking the black grains of wild rice into their canoes. Those black kernels are just naturally laden with antioxidants, zinc, B-vitamins, phosphorous, and iron. But that isn't why we relish wild rice; we love it for its roasted nut-like flavor and chewy texture.

We also love it because it is different in color and in flavor. You don't see much black in edible foods. You don't have to have a whole lot of wild rice in a dish to turn an "okay" salad, casserole, or bread into something special.

My very special niece, Jamie Sue Swanson, who lives in Minnesota, sent me a care package for Christmas filled with everything from candy bars, to maple syrup to wild rice and many more surprising Minnesota products. What fun it was and what joy to spot the wild rice. Good cook that she is, she had even taken the time to include some of her favorite wild rice recipes.

Fear not, wild rice is easy to tame

Because the seed coat is still on the grain it takes a little longer to cook than white or brown rice but not much and the yield is good; it more than triples in size when you cook it. Rinse the rice before cooking. Don't worry about cooking more than you need. Wild rice freezes well and it is nice to be able to add it to soups, salads, casseroles, muffins or to mix with white rice in all of its many dishes.

Cooking simply: 1 cup of wild rice plus 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; lower to a simmer and cover. Cook until rice is tender to the bite, 45 to 60 minutes depending upon how you like it. Makes about 3 cups.

Simply baking: 1 cup of wild rice plus 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, fluff and bake another half hour. Makes about 5 cups.

Tasty ideas:

To the cooking water add a chicken, beef or vegetable bouillon cube, or cook in chicken stock. Or, add some wine, apple or orange juice when cooking.

When making salads, add a dash of oil and toss the rice to keep the grains from sticking.

Enhance cooked rice with butter, parsley, toasted almonds or pecans, cooked peas or edamame and serve as a side dish.

Substitute wild rice for a third of the white rice in rice pudding.

Add wild rice to your favorite pancake, muffin or scone recipe.

Pop wild rice for a snack by heating 1-inch of vegetable oil to 375 F. Add 1/4 cup uncooked wild rice. Rice should pop at once. Working quickly use a slotted spoon to transfer rice to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with both salt and pepper to taste. This makes about 1 1/4 cups; your yield here is 5 to 1.

Wild Rice Pancakes

You can add cooked wild rice to a pancake mix or make them from scratch with this Minnesota farm recipe. Makes 10 to 12 pancakes. Serve with maple or fruit syrup, runny jam, just butter or sour cream and brown sugar.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat griddle or heavy pan and then lightly grease just before dropping the batter. Stir or sift the dry ingredients together until well mixed. Beat egg, milk, sour cream and butter together and then stir into the dry ingredients. Don't over mix; batter will be a bit lumpy. Drop by tablespoons onto grill.

Jamie's Wild Rice Soup

A good way to use leftover chicken or turkey that has been shivering in your freezer but you can make it with cubes of fresh chicken or turkey. This is a big recipe it makes about 10 to 12 servings.

2 cups of shredded chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
3 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup sliced celery
6 ounces wild rice and white rice mixed
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine ingredients and cook in a crock pot on low heat for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 hours. Or combine and cook covered in a 300 F oven if you don't have a crock pot.

Wild Rice Blueberry Muffins

Frozen blueberries work well and if you shake them in a Ziploc bag with a tablespoon of flour you can easily distribute them throughout the batter. You can use a prepared muffin mix, adding the blueberries and rice or make them from scratch. The secret to muffins is not to over mix them.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 cup unsweetened blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup cooked wild rice

Preheat oven to 400 F and grease or spray muffin pan. Stir or sift together the 5 dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl slightly beat the eggs and then beat in milk and butter. Carefully add liquid ingredients to dry, stirring only until barely combined, mixture will be lumpy. Shake blueberries with 1 tablespoon flour and combine with wild rice. Fold the berries and rice into the muffin batter. Spoon carefully into the muffin tins and bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Wild rice is wildly good!


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