This rice bakedish has been in my family for a long time, so of course nobody remembers if grandmother first made it or some chef created it or what cookbook Mom found it in (we were pretty much kept in the dark as kids, especially when it came to who did what). Anyway, if anybody recognizes it from a chef or cookbook of some kind, Ill be happy to credit it.
I love it because it never fails and because its quick, easy and cheap to do. In fact, you can prepare a huge batch of it and it will still always work, no matter how many people are sitting down to dinner.
You start with a large ovenproof dish ceramic is great (and you wont even need the glass cover). On the stovetop, in the ovenproof dish, melt stick of butter (you can use ghee or strained / clarified butter or whole butter) or heat some olive oil (the butter has more fat and therefore tastes better). Thin slice an onion and fry it in the butter until it is soft; dont let it cook until it colors.
For the rice, you can use Minute Rice, but the long grain pure white or wheat rice is superior in texture and flavor, and it will produce much better results. If youre using the natural kind (you can even go organic if you want), rinse one and 1/2 cups of it under cold water and let it dry, just like a real chef does; skip this step for the Minute Rice.
Add the 1 and 1/2 cups of rice to the onion and butter and fry it all for three minutes. Add sprigs of herbs, either tied together with butchers string or in a muslin bag (bruise the bag with a rolling pin or heavy kitchen implement to release the herbal flavors). These herbs can be in any combination you like rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, bay leaf (the last three on the list are my favorite combination for this baked rice recipe).
Now, since youve invested some time in cooking, dont add water use 1 and1/2 pints of stock (beef, chicken, lamb, vegetable or fish, depending on the dish you want to serve with it). If youre too lazy to make stock (I might share the recipe for that later), its available both refrigerated and unrefrigerated on most grocers shelves.
Add sea or kosher salt and fresh-ground black or white pepper and set the dish into a preheated oven, 450 degrees. DO NOT COVER THE RICE.
Its at this point you can add cooked chicken, seafood, beef or whatever else you may want to add, or you can wait until the rice is finished to add them.
Bake the rice dish for 20 minutes the rice will have absorbed all the liquid, and you can then remove the herbs from the dish. The result is pure heaven, the best of all baked rice recipes, and if you make it with lobster-shell stock and add the cooked lobster, its totally luxuriant, rich and sinfully not good for you. Enjoy my familys rice bake!