Murphy’s Wild Rice
Memories and the connection food has to them is often the topic of my blog posts.
If you read my site at all, you know that I generally show my love for people by feeding them. I really love to feed people. I need to feed my family and friends. I just want to give all the food to all the people all the time. Maybe I have a bit of Italian grandmother in my heritage….
Life itself needs food to survive and our lives rotate around mealtimes and eating. What better way to show warmth and support and love than to share your table with those you care for most in your life? I have witnessed this unbridled hospitality many times growing up and knew early on that food, while basic in our need for it, can be a powerful thing. Indeed, it has the ability to heal, damage, soothe, and hold us hostage. It can make us crave, ache, and weep with joy. Yes, I could be describing an episode of Downton Abbey, but in this case, I am referring to a really good hamburger. Or a perfectly made apple pie. Or that casserole that only your Mom seems to make juuuuuuuuust right.
Or this wild rice.
Amongst the circle of my family, this rice is rather famous. When you grow up eating something and it becomes part of you and your memories, you assume that everyone will enjoy it as much as you do. How could someone NOT love Aunt Fluffy’s steak and kidney pie? Or Cousin Fred’s lutefisk sandwiches? For example, my husband goes on and ON about how good it is to eat Grape Nuts with coffee instead of milk, and no matter how much he tries to convince me of it, I resist. It never occurs to him that it is weird or strange or, well, icky. It is simply how those in his house ate it and when you love something that much, you want everyone else to love it that much too. Family dishes are as important as our genealogy and as legendary as family lore.
In this case, I learned young that this really IS something everyone loves as much as my family. Relatives, friends, acquaintances, spouses, co-workers, and everyone in-between; they all love this rice. It is most definitely magical.
Why? Because it is simple. Because it has bacon, and it is good. Because it has great texture, and it is good. It is even better leftover and it is very good.
Never had wild rice before? Don’t fret. You cook it just like regular rice. Even though I grew up eating it in Minnesota where it is widely available and a staple in our diet (Ever heard of Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup? Gaaaaaahhhhhhhh) it isn’t all that different from other rice so it transfers well to other regions. It is nutritionally dense and has more protein than any other rice. It is also high in fiber, low in fat, and like all rice, gluten-free.
It is also beautiful, yes? Fluffy and gorgeous, this rice can make your heart beat fast in anticipation! Our favorite way to enjoy it is with anything roasted; duck, turkey, chicken, you name it. It is excellent. It is also perfect with fish of any kind. Piled up on a plate with a veggie makes for an awesome light supper.
I realize that since you have no direct emotional family connection to this dish, it will more than likely not make you weep with joy. However, I DO hope that you will make it for your own legendary family table. For like most food, it tastes better when you share it with family and friends. Murphy’s Wild Rice
This rice is called Murphy’s because that is my Dad’s name, and he is the one that makes it. Until now, as far as I know, he is the only one that makes it. I was given his blessing when I asked to post it here. It is actually more for my benefit that anything else. I don’t live in the same timezone as my parents and I want to be able to recreate it when the mood strikes. This is even better on day two and it is outrageously good when mixed with scrambled eggs.
1 c wild rice, long grain and still with the outer hull
1/4 lb, 4 slices or so, good smokey bacon, diced small (1/4 inch)
1 small onion, diced small
1 stalk celery, diced small
1/4 c diced mushrooms, fresh or canned
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
cayenne to taste
Cook the wild rice in plenty of boiling water (just like you would pasta) until popped. The rice will split and curl beautifully when it is cooked. This will take 30-40 minutes. Drain well. In the meantime, sauté the bacon until cooked, but not crispy. Add the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper, going light on the salt due to the bacon. Cook over medium-medium low heat until veggies are translucent. You don’t want to fry everything, just sauté. Set aside. When rice is done, mix everything together in a bowl and taste for seasoning. Rice should be peppery and well seasoned, but not garlicky. This can be made a day ahead of time, simply cool and cover. When ready to serve, just microwave with a large pat of butter, stir, and enjoy!