Make Ahead

Wild Rice Pilaf

March 28, 2011
1 Ratings
  • Serves 4
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…

What You'll Need
  • 2-4 pieces of bacon
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1-2 celery stalks, minced
  • 1-2 carrots, minced
  • 2-3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley, to finish
  • chopped fresh chives, to finish
  1. 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.)
  2. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook until just soft.
  3. Add the water and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the rice, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and lower the heat to simmer for approximately an hour, or until rice is tender.
  6. When the rice is done, remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and discard.
  7. Add some chopped parsley and chives.
  8. Add any additional ingredients of your choice, such as the cooked bacon, crispy duck skin, or additional meat or vegetables.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • delicia.sampson.7
  • Sagegreen
  • healthierkitchen
  • checker

Recipe by: checker

Someone once said, "the wise man knows that he knows nothing at all." Therefore if I spend my days seeking knowledge than I am simply trying to be a better fool. Hopefully I will eat well along the way.

6 Reviews

Vfscotti May 20, 2023
I omitted the bacon as well and used 1 cup of chicken broth and 1.5 cup water to give it a flavor boost. Turned out great. Thanks for the recipe!
delicia.sampson.7 July 3, 2021
Really good method. I omitted the bacon and toasted and chopped almonds for a meatless version.
Sagegreen March 28, 2011
Love this rice. A friend sent me a gift of some he harvested one year. It was really special. Your cabin and recipe go together so well!
checker March 28, 2011
Our cabin is on a long and skinny point, and is surrounded by water on three sides. The "back" side is a long channel where a small patch of rice grows. I love to take my kayak out there and knock the rice into the cockpit. I never take much, as I prefer to leave that rice to the wildlife, but I get just enough to have a small bowlful. Thanks for the comment!
healthierkitchen March 28, 2011
sounds lovely - the dish and the cabin!
checker March 28, 2011
Thank you! To me, they are pure comfort.