Each year, I attend my friend Reggie’s Pig-a-Palooza party. She and her grill-enthusiast husband provide the incredible pig, roasted all day on their custom-built BBQ. The pig is cooked whole over hardwood and the cavity is stuffed with beautiful vegetables, spices and fresh herbs. The party-goers always bring side dishes of their own choosing to accompany the main event. There is always a TON of food, drink and people, all day long. The food is amazing. I think their “bring what you want” tactic is a super smart way to go since people usually bring their best, crowd-pleasing dishes.
And all this fun isn’t just limited to food! This year, there was even a bounce house and a puppet show for the kids (and adults). It’s always an awesome event!
This year I opted to bring my Cilantro Rice. This is a simple and flavorful side dish for your next party or dinner. If you are vegan, omit the cheese topping and replace the butter with oil (don’t worry, there’s enough flavor that no one would miss it). If you are trying to eat a little healthier, this is also a great way to dress up brown rice or couscous. Simply use the same techniques and cook according to directions.
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
2 bundles cilantro, destemmed and chopped
1 cup white rice
2 cups water (filtered if your water quality is poor)
2 cloves freshly minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup grated queso fresco
Preheat a medium sized sauce pan that has a well-fitting lid to medium heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter (reserving the remaining two) and olive oil together in pan, then add the onion, garlic and rice and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt and stir regularly to ensure even cooking.
Once onions are translucent and rice is starting to brown (around 5 minutes), stir in water and half of the cilantro (reserving the second half to finish).
Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low, stir and place lid on the pot. Let rice cook for 20 minutes (do NOT lift the lid until your timer goes off).
Once done, remove from heat and stir in remaining butter and cilantro. Serve family style on a large platter , top with queso fresco and maybe a few cilantro leaves for garnish.
In this case, since I had to transport the dish, and also made a double batch, I transferred it into a catering pan, covered it in tin foil and waited to garnish it when I reached the party.
Some people don’t know this but cilantro is coriander. Coriander is essentially cilantro seed. They both are used in dishes but give a slightly different flavor. Next time you are cooking with coriander seed, throw a few in some dirt, water moderately, keep in a sunny place and see what grows!
Coriander is often used in love and lust potions. Next time you invite your sweetheart over, cook something with cilantro or coriander, stir in your feelings of love, togetherness and romance and see if it doesn’t cook up something spicy.