Wild rice has been a staple for the Ojibwa, Chippewa, and Algonquin people for thousands of years. Native Americans in the Great Lakes region still use wild rice in just about everything: cakes, breads, omelets, muffins, casseroles, pancakes, and so on. The dark, robust grain (technically an aquatic grass) is complex, nutty, and pleasantly bitter—and richer in protein, minerals, and B vitamins than wheat, barley, oats, or rye.
When shopping for wild rice, you might notice a light brown "wild rice mix" as well as the more familiar dark variety. This paddy-grown grain is not the same thing as authentic Native American wild rice. It is lighter in color and milder in flavor-and cooks in less time and with less water. If you make this recipe with "wild rice mix," cook it as you would any long-grain brown rice.
* Dried cranberries can be substituted for the cherries.
* Hazelnuts are also known as filberts.
YIELD: 3 or 4 servings
PREPARATION TIME: 1-1/4 hours (2 minutes of work)
1 cup wild rice
2-1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Brown sugar or pure maple syrup
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, lightly toasted
Milk, soy milk, or cream
1. Place the wild rice, water, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. When it reaches a boil, cover the pot, and lower the heat to a bare simmer. Cook for 1-1/4 hours, or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender and has "butterflied," or burst open. (If the grain has become tender but there is still water left, drain it off.)
2. Remove from the heat, and stir in the sugar or maple syrup and the cherries.
3. Serve hot, topped with chopped hazelnuts and the milk of your choice.
Precious Wild Rice
Why is wild rice so expensive? Amazingly, about 20 percent of the world's crop is still hand-picked by Native Americans in canoes, who retain exclusive harvesting rights on the reservations along the shores of the Great Lakes. The crop is an important part of the tribes' economy.
After it is cut, the precious grain is sun-dried, then hulled through an agitation process in a steel drum. This labor of love has been virtually unchanged throughout the centuries, and to this day, true heirloom wild rice grows solely in the northern Great Lakes region. When buying wild rice, look for a "hand-harvested" or "lake-harvested" insignia on the package, which verifies the original organic, foraged variety. By purchasing authentic wild rice, you will be supporting both the economic system of the Native American harvesters (enabling them to produce more) and the crop itself, which is ecologically fragile.
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Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created November 2002
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