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Author Notes: Everyone has a little piece of heaven on Earth, and mine is a cabin on a lake in Northern Minnesota. It has been with my family for over 100 years, and is as rustic and remote and beautiful as ever. Fortunately we have plumbing and electricity now, though somehow the lights still get turned off in the evening to allow the layers of colors in the sunset to saturate the atmosphere.
We always day-trip to Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Some years the water has been low enough that you could stand with one foot on each side of the river. If you are there at the right time you can see members of the local Ojibwe tribe harvesting the “manoomin,” as it is called, with their “knockers,” the very specifically defined instruments used to harvest the rice.
Sometimes I add shredded meat to this, like leftover roast chicken. Sometimes it’s veggies – like turnips or sweet potatoes. I am posting it because I got in the habit of making this as the side to accompany my Flaming Duck recipe (see my recipes for reference) and I will often add the crispy duck skin to the finished rice by crumpling it on top. Wild rice is a favorite food of ducks, so it just seemed natural. As is always the case, I welcome your interpretation and look forward to hearing about your additions or changes.
Finally, the issue of bacon. Seeing as that there is a heavy New York Times influence on this site, I am assuming I can reference a Melissa Clark article (October 9, 2002) as an argument for my proclamation that will provide some support. You see … the best bacon in the world is from Thielen Meats of Pierz (Minnesota). Seriously. Really. No other bacon will do. Martha Stewart ordered it for her show. The owners told me that the late, great Peter Jennings was a fan. Melissa Clark made it famous. This is the bacon of the Gods. So if you know someone in Minnesota, you should beg their mercy and have them overnight you a package. And if you live in DC I might be willing to negotiate. Maybe…
pieces of bacon
small onion, minced
celery stalks, minced
garlic gloves, minced
cup wild rice, rinsed
sprigs fresh thyme
large bay leaf
salt and pepper
chopped fresh parsley, to finish
chopped fresh chives, to finish
- Sauté the bacon until cooked, then remove from skillet and leave the rendered fat. (You may crumble the bacon into this finished dish or reserve it for another use. Or just eat it right there.)
- Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook until just soft.
- Add the water and bring to a boil.
- Add the rice, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Cover and lower the heat to simmer for approximately an hour, or until rice is tender.
- When the rice is done, remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and discard.
- Add some chopped parsley and chives.
- Add any additional ingredients of your choice, such as the cooked bacon, crispy duck skin, or additional meat or vegetables.