At Poco we’re well known for our seasonal approach and our delicious and savoury meats but my real passion is the seasonality of vegetables and the diversity that brings to the table as new ingredients become available to us as the months and weather change. While the evenings are still cool and us seasonal cooks are waiting for the late Spring vegetables to kick in. an exotic Pilaf is a comforting solution for dinner that uses our winter veg and store cupboard spices.
Pilaf is a delicious and aromatic Middle Eastern dish usually made of rice cooked in a rich broth of onions and spices. It is in the same family as an Indian pilau or biryani. It’s great to cook at home because it’s so simple a marvelous one-pot-wonder. I like my pilaf to be an elaborate and flavourful dish with lots of crushed nuts (any will do) and dried fruit to make it even more decadent.
I like to cook world food with a British twist. So instead of rice I’m using pearl barley a truly British grain perfect for replacing rice in sticky dishes like risotto, paella and pilaf. The barley grains soak up every ounce of flavour from the broth, and become bulging and unctuous. Barley cooks in about 15 minutes so use it to replace rice in any recipe and follow the same instructions. However do be careful not to overcook it as it becomes fluffy and loses its bite or texture.
If you’re lucky and have leftovers save them for a filling salad the next day. Freshen it up with some olive oil and fresh parsley.
Preheat the oven to 160C
Sear your lamb or celeriac if using in a heavy pan with oil, salt and pepper. Then pop them in the oven for 15 minutes to cook through.
In a thick, ovenproof dish, gently fry the sliced onions in oil for 15-20 minutes until they are soft and caramelized. Add the coriander and garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes. Next add the rice and stir, coating each and every grain with oil, onion and spice. Add the lamb or celeriac and water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required. Put the lid on and put in the oven for 45 minutes or until the water has evaporated.
Serve with yoghurt seasoned with spices, salt and pepper.
Storage: Pilaf will keep really well for 3 days. It’s delicious cold the next day or reheated. Make sure its properly refrigerated and piping hot right through when reheated.
By TOM HUNT
Tom's manifesto, 'Root to Fruit' demonstrates how we can all become part of the solution, supporting a delicious, biodiverse and regenerative food system, giving us the skills and knowledge to shop, eat and cook sustainably, whilst eating healthier, better-tasting food for no extra cost.