Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wild Rice With Dried Cranberries, Apricots And Butternut Squash

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I have been wanting to try this recipe ever since I saw it on the Williams Sonoma site.  It reminds me of Ottolenghi, whose recipes you know I adore, and it has everything I love in a dish to accompany poultry, including a delicate nutty flavor.   

I have been feeling guilty about not posting Thanksgiving recipes lately seeing that the holiday is next week and knowing that a lot of you are looking for new ideas and not posts about my beautiful roses.  First of all, we have been moving my mother to her "garden apartment" the last couple of weeks so my mind has not been on entertaining but on boxes.  Added to that is the fact that I have been posting Thanksgiving menus for the past five years and this is one of the meals I try not to vary much  How many ways can you cook a turkey, or make a stuffing, or improve on sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, or a green bean casserole with fried onions, or pumpkin and pecan pies?  They are all here including various cranberry sauces and chutney.  Just do a search or go to the MASTER RECIPE INDEX at the top.  But this? this is special and it's worth posting about.  It. would be an excellent addition or substitution as a side dish for the holiday or as part of a weekday meal of roast chicken, like the one we had last night.

If you want a simple Thanksgiving, for maybe two or three, this is your ticket to a no fuzz holiday.  Maybe a green vegetable and a good store bought pie and you, my friend, are off the hook!

It was really tough having to practice this recipe before I posted it.  Really tough....

And making these chicken thighs to go with it was also really tough.  Preparation took all of five minutes.  The things I go through for my fans.....

I made a couple of changes to the recipe by using this brown and wild rice mix which I much prefer to just wild rice. To me wild rice always tastes tough and always manages to get between my teeth or stuck at the back of my throat making me concentrate on getting it out delicately without anyone else guessing what's going on. Here you have more room to maneuver and besides I like the relative softness of the brown rice in the mix.  I also used chicken instead of vegetable stock for more flavor but go the vegan route if you must.   At the end, drizzle a small amount of the drippings from the turkey or roast chicken . That's the icing on the cake!

By the way, I roasted the squash alongside the chicken alternating the temperature between 375 and 400 to accommodate both.  No problem, as you can see.

For Thanksgiving, you might want to substitute dried cranberries for the cherries.

I made enough chicken and rice to save for leftovers tonight.  Or did I?  

This will be the battleground at the dinner table tonight.  I see only two small portions and three hungry ladies .  I have my bets...

Wild Rice Pilaf with Dried Cherries, Apricots and Butternut Squash

2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 small sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped
2 tsp. curry powder
2 cups (12 oz./375 g) wild rice, I used Royal Blend Texmati wild and brown rice
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange zest strip, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long and 1/2 inch (12 mm) wide
4 1/2 cups (36 fl. oz./1. 1 l) chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) diced dried apricots
1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) dried pitted cherries or cranberries
1 small butternut squash, halved, seeded, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
2 tsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (2 oz.) chopped toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

In a large, wide saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and stir to combine. Stir in the wild rice, cinnamon stick and orange zest and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the broth, apricots and cherries to the saucepan and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, stirring once. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 55 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.  If you are cooking with the wild and brown rice blend, uncover,check if rice is done, let some of the steam out, stir with a fork, lay a folded paper towel on top of the rice and replace cover.

While the rice is cooking, in a large bowl, toss the squash with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until golden brown outside and thoroughly tender inside, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover to keep warm.

To assemble, transfer the rice mixture to a serving bowl. Remove cinnamon stick and orange zest and discard. Fold in the roasted squash and pecans, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

If you are serving alongside turkey or chicken, drizzle some of the juices from the pan.

Roast chicken thighs

Marinade chicken thighs in lime and orange juice, mashed garlic and chopped onions.  Sprinkle some Herbs de Provence on top, salt and pepper. Cut butter in cubes and lay one on top of each thigh Cook at 375 for around 50 minutes.  Turn the oven to broil and cook until skin is browned.  

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen
Photos Lindaraxa


  1. This looks really good and I like a simple recipe that go alongside a simple roast chicken. With just the two of us, I'm not into six dishes for dinner! I'll let you know if I make it and post it!

  2. Absolutely stunning dish and perfect to accompany turkey or chicken. I enjoy the wild rice mixes too. Nice to know which brand you prefer. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  3. I've got to try this. I'm an easy sell for anything involving wild rice. I will modify it to be less on the sweet side; no orange peel and less dried fruit. I will probably use all wild rice. I was wondering if you cooked it enough before. Too "al dente" and it retains a needle-like texture; without overcooking, the individual grains should still burst open.

  4. Oh I do love squash and a good Thanksgiving recipe but you know what, there are never too many rose posts - now those are always gorgeous from your garden.

  5. Looks amazing! This will absolutely be on my list of recipes to try this Thanksgiving season. Thanks so much and best wishes for a happy holiday season.

  6. A winner, for sure!!!!! Fabulous and I will try it this week. Yes, I agree that there is only so much one can do with Thanksgiving recipes if you want to stay with the traditional (and not have your family think you've lost it....).

  7. This looks and sounds so delicious! I am trying for sure this week!

    The Arts by Karena

  8. A perfect side dish. I too love the Royal Blend mix. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  9. This is a perfect fall dish. I love that mix you found with the rice and grains. This is a great blend of flavors.

    Hope you have a splendid Thanksgiving.


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