Make Ahead

A One-Pot Lamb & Rice Pilaf That Tastes Like Spring (Yes, Spring!)

February 13, 2017

Sometimes the thought of cleanup can send even the person who loves to cook running from the kitchen. That’s why “One-Pot Wonders” are always such a hit: Toss a bunch of ingredients into a pot, cover it up, walk away, and some time later, you'll have a home-cooked dish without a sink full of pots and pans.

Hence, when I stumbled across the recipe for Spiced Uzbekistani Plov on the site, I immediately wanted to give it a try. Submitted by Kukla, a beloved member of the Food52 community who passed last year, I was certain this recipe, like many she shared, could be a winner.

You begin by sautéeing chunks of lamb, followed by chopped vegetables. Next, you add a bit of broth, rice, and whole head of garlic to the pot. Then, you cover the pot so that all the flavors meld together, and the result is a delicious pilaf studded with tender lamb, soft vegetables, and a lovely blend of spices. The finished dish is brightened with handfuls of fresh herbs and peas, thrown in right before serving.

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My curiosity was also piqued by the fact that this particular dish happens to be the national dish of Uzbekistan.

While it can be made at home, plov (also “palov” or “pilaf”) is made for special occasions, when it's cooked in a large kazan—a very low, big pot, that sits over an open flame from the ground. Guests can watch, and smell, the dish as it cooks. For large celebrations, like weddings, there are kazans that are large enough to make enough palov serve up to a thousand people. While Uzbeks eat a significant amount of mutton because sheep are herded and kept all over the country, palov can also be made with lamb, as it is in this version.

Rice and meat dishes are popular in the countries that neighbor Uzbekistan, and this dish is representational of the style of cooking for the entire region. Best of all, I can now say the national dish of the Uzbek is going to be in heavy rotation at my American dinner table.

What's your favorite one-pot meal? Tell us in the comments below.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Cookbook Author. Heirloom Kitchen.Food52 contributing editor & Recipe Tester.