Monday, November 04, 2013

Chelo-Gourmet Magazine December 1972

This is a James Beard recipe that appeared in Gourmet magazine in December of 1972. This would have been a rather fancy, exotic dish to most people as 1/2 a cup of olive oil would have cost a small fortune (assuming you could find it at all). Our pharmacy sold olive oil in tiny bottles for medicinal use, but no one I knew cooked with it.
You will need to rig up a special pan to cook the rice. It worked, though I must admit I had my doubts. Mine did however need to cook longer, and at a higher temperature than the recipe suggested, so be prepared to adjust accordingly. And watch it, so the towel does not catch fire.
I served the chelo with a tofu dish of onions, garlic, raisins, and saffron cooked with white wine and peas. Somewhat elegant for a Monday evening, but the stack of magazines were calling to me.

Wash two cups basmati rice in boiling water and soak it for 4-5 hours. Drain the rice, rinse it well with cold water, and let it stand 1-2 hours (I did this in a strainer over a pan to catch excess liquid).
In a kettle (I used my enamel Dutch oven) bring 2-3 quarts of water to a boil. Season it with 1 1/2 tablespoons salt (I used 1 tablespoon coarse salt). Add the rice and boil vigourously for about 10 minutes. Drain the rice, rinse again with boiling water, and drain thoroughly.
In a heavy pan with a tight fitting lid (I used the Dutch oven again) melt 1/2 cup butter or heat 1/2 cup olive oil (I used the oil). Add the rice, then pour over it 5-6 tablespoons more butter or oil (I know, I know, it was 1972). Wrap a tea towel around the edge of the kettle, cover with another towel, folded, and put on the lid( this is to absorb the steam from the rice so it will crisp). Cook over low heat (I used medium as mine just wouldn't crisp on low) and heat 15-20 minutes (mine was more like 30 minutes). The butter or oil will have seeped through the rice so that it is nicely coated and there will be a crisp, golden layer of rice on the bottom of the pan. The crusty layer should be carefully removed, and either arranged around the rice as a garnish, or served separately as it sometimes is in Iran.

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