Camargue Red Rice with Almonds, Herbs and Braised Leeks
Culinary discoveries are always just around the corner! On my visit to Micucci's Italian market the other day I spotted a package of Carmargue red rice on a shelf. I'd heard about this rice but never had tried it, so of course I bought a bag.
Camargue is a unique and unusual region of France, a low-lying Mediterranean effluvial plain west of Marseilles, between the Medi-Pyranees and the Provence Alpes/Cote d'Azur. Camargue red rice is a recently-developed hybrid (discovered in 1980, put into commercial production in 1992) of the indiginous wild red rice of the region and the cultivated short grain rice which is also produced there. Fleur de sel (marsh-harvested sea salt) is also produced the Camargue, and the region has been famous since antiquity for the white Camargue horses and the cowboys (gardiens) who ride them to wrangle cattle.
This rice has a longish grain and a nutty flavor, like brown rice, with a nice chewy quality reminiscent of wild rice. The addition of braised leeks, toasted almonds, sweet red peppers and fresh herbs made a memorable, satisfying side for a Fall meal of wine-braised rabbit (subject of a future post) with Kevin's brussel sprouts.
Carmargue Red Rice with Almonds, Herbs and Braised Leeks
1 leek, white parts only, washed
1 cup Camargue red rice
3-1/3 C water
3 oz slivered almonds
1-1/2 T butter
1 small cube chicken bullion concentrate
1/2 C dry white wine
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 T fresh sage, chopped
1 T fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped
1 T fresh chives, chopped
salt, hot sauce to taste
Bring the water to a boil, add the rice and stir. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered tightly, about 45 minutes, until the moisture is absorbed. (Or cook in an automatic rice cooker, as I did.)
Cut the leek crosswise into thin disks, then halve the disks. Melt 1-1/2 T butter in a small saucepan and add the leeks, bullion cube and wine. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the chopped sweet red pepper, cover and simmer another five minutes, until both leeks and peppers are tender.
Toast the almond slivers in a dry pan over high heat, stirring and tossing constantly until you start to see some charred surfaces. Turn out of the pan onto a paper towel immediately.
When the rice is cooked, stir in the leeks and peppers, almonds and minced fresh herbs. Correct the seasoning and garnish with sage leaves if desired. Serve as a side to roasted, grilled or braised meats.