Alton Brown’s Rice Pilaf

This one’s a weird one for me to write.

I love rice. I love rice pilafs. I love Alton Brown, and am almost never disappointed in his recipes.

But I was kind of disappointed in this recipe.

On the plus side, the directions were clear, and it wasn’t really difficult at all to make. I just didn’t think that the result tasted like much of anything. Kind of a waste of saffron and all the veggies and other ingredients, if you ask me, because I didn’t think it tasted much better than plain rice. The texture was good, though, so I think there’s something to this method. I will probably give this another chance, especially since David liked it just fine. I didn’t dislike it, I was just…underwhelmed.


Alton Brown’s Rice Pilaf

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 strips orange zest
  • Pinch of saffron strands, steeped in 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • Golden raisins and pistachios for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy, wide, lidded pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion, red pepper, and kosher salt. Sweat the onions and peppers until aromatic, stirring constantly. Add the rice and stir to coat. Continue stirring until rice smells nutty. Add chicken broth, orange zest, saffron and water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Stir once, then cover pan with moistened dish towel (or tea towel). Place lid on pan and fold towel corners over lid. Bake for 15 minutes. Then rest at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes without removing the cover. Meanwhile, simmer peas in salted water until heated through or heat in a microwave. Remove lid from rice and turn out onto a platter. Add peas and fluff with a large fork. Add raisins and pistachios.

Note: I followed the directions almost exactly, but I used about 1/2 cup white wine in place of part of the chicken broth–we didn’t have quite as much chicken broth as I thought (oops!). I also skipped the raisins and pistachios, only because I served the rice with Chicken Kiev, and I didn’t think raisins went so well with garlic-herb butter.

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4 Responses to “Alton Brown’s Rice Pilaf”

  1. Mom

    i think it must have been the peas

  2. Teri

    Oddly enough, I did a small (photo sized) test batch with the peas, and decided I didn’t like them in there enough to add them to the whole batch. So there weren’t really peas in the “real” rice pilaf.

  3. Scott

    I’ve made this recipe before and it was fabulous. From the looks of your picture, you did not use the saffron correctly. The golden raisins and pistachios are key to this having great taste and texture. Try it again and make sure that your saffron water is golden to red and I think you will be impressed!

  4. Teri

    @ Scott

    I’m sure we will try it again. The saffron we have on hand isn’t really the most fresh, either. I liked the idea of the raisins and pistachios, but my husband wasn’t 100% on board, and I wasn’t sure they went with that particular dish. Next time, we’ll be sure to include them. We’re big Alton Brown fans around here, so if an AB recipe didn’t turn out, I’m much more likely to blame myself than the recipe!

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