Russian Plov… A One Pot Chicken And Rice Recipe
France has duck confit, Italy has risotto, the USA has BBQ and Uzbekistan has “plov”. Whether you call it pilaf, polow, or pulao, the basic idea remains the same: a simple rice dish with complex flavors and old tradition. While it may be a bit timely, the end result is perfection in a bowl. Delicious and individual rice grains fall apart from tender and succulent meat; the perfect bite on a fork.
“Plov” is actually the Russian pronunciation of the word common to all of the Caucasus, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Afghanistan and India. “Plov” seems to be first seen in Samarkand when Alexander the Great of Macedonia asked his cooks to create a dish that could be used for him to entertain “company”. “Plov” recipes were handed down not from parent to child, but instead from merchant to merchant, from traveler to traveler on the Great Silk Road. Although several changes were made due to local available ingredients and tastes, it has remained in some shape or form as a popular dish among all eastern cultures from China to Azerbaijan.
Today “plov” is known as the most popular and common dish to Uzbekistan. Natives of this country claim that there are more than 50 varieties of this dish. It is used, when a friend comes over, as the main dish at weddings and even funerals. Some use different meats, nuts, dried fruits, spices etc., but the technique remains the same. However, the classical “plov” recipe remains the same for over 1000 years. There are certain traditions that must remain the same, when cooking a classic “plov”.
- You have to use a heavy bottomed pot, which they call a “kazan”. Cast-iron works the best. I love my Lodge Dutch Oven for this. “Plov” cooks on a very high temperature, therefore you need something that is going to be a good insulator of heat and cast iron proves to be one of the best.
- Rice must be washed thoroughly and preferably steeped in water before adding it to the “kazan”.
- Plenty of carrots must be used. In fact, they even state that the carrots to use are light orange in color not the deep orange-red.*Unfortunately, regular orange carrots were all I could find and my “plov” still tastes amazing, so I would not worry too much about it. *
Now while this dish is not difficult, it does allow a few hours. So give yourself some time to make it right. The best part about this plov is that it truly is at its heart a one-pot chicken and rice recipe. And best of all it is in fact super freezer friendly. So make extra and freeze the rest!
3 pounds of chicken breast and thighs (boneless), or lamb, or beef
3 cups of enriched parboiled rice
2 large onions
8-10 large carrots3-4 heads of garlic, with the tops removed
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper corns
salt to taste
vegetable oil for frying
- First we start off with the rice. The rice is crucial! You must use enriched, parboiled, long grain rice. Not the healthiest, but it works the best.
- Rinse it through, well, under cold water. Then transfer it to a bowl and let it soak in cold water while you make the rest of the plov.
- Next comes the meat. Traditional plov is made with lamb. However, I have made it with beef and chicken, and it was fantastic. In this instance, we are using chicken breast and boneless skinless chicken thighs.
- Before you get dirty with your meat, heat up your heavy-bottomed pan with olive oil in it. You want it smoking hot.
- Cut up the meat into medium cubes, a little bigger than bite size. For the chicken breast, first cut them into strips. Then cut them into cubes. The chicken thighs just cut into rough pieces. Each thigh should be cut into 2-3 pieces.
- Season the meat heavily with salt and pepper. Then add to your pot carefully so not to burn yourself. You may need to do this in batches so as to not overcrowd the pan. Get them really nice and golden brown.
- While the meat is browning, lets prep our veggies. Cut off the ends of the onions. And then cut in half, so that it is easier to remove the peel. Next, slice each half of the onion in half. Now slice the onion horizontally. Do the same with your other onion.
- Peel all your carrots. If you have a Vitamix or food processor, I would highly recommend pulling it out. I used to cut up the carrots by hand, but there really is no need for that nor the calluses caused by the knife after cutting up all those carrots into matchsticks.
- If you are using a food processor, then go ahead and use your medium shredder attachment.
- If you are using a Vitamix, then you are going to want to do a wet chop. Add your carrots to the Vitamix and fill it up with water just above the carrots.
- Pulse it 2-3 times, until they are all shredded. Pour into a colander to pour out excess water.
- Next, add the onions to the nicely browned meat. Toss together. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes over high heat.
- Add in the carrots and toss everything to combine. Let it cook for 15 minutes.
- Now cover this whole mass with boiling water, just enough to cover the top. Add in salt, pepper and cumin. Taste the liquid. You will be using the seasoning to season a lot of rice. So make sure it’s extra seasoned. If using whole bulbs of garlic, go ahead and nestle them into the mixture. You want to use boiling water, because otherwise the mixture would cool off and your cooking process would be interrupted.
- GO AWAY. PLEASE! PLEASE! Please, whatever you do, DO NOT STIR! You will disrupt the wonderful magic that is about to happen! Go talk on the phone, watch half a movie, drink some wine… whatever you want… just do not touch this for 45 minutes.
- Once this time has passed, crank up the heat. Remember that rice you had steeping in the water? Now is the time to drain it and prepare for its final resting place. Once drained, lay the rice CAREFULLY over your carrot, meat and onion mixture. Pretend you are gently “blanketing” the mixture with your rice.
- Again, take BOILING water and SLOWLY cover the rice just about ½ of an inch above the rice. See all that beautiful brown goodness comes up to the top? That’s your flavor right there, that’s what you did all that work for.
- Let the rice cook on HIGH heat, until there is no more liquid. If you see liquid still bubbling up from the top, it isn’t done. If you see liquid bubbling up at the bottom, it isn’t done. Only when it is completely dry, it is done. And this will take about 30 minutes. Once the rice is dry, cover it and let stand for about 30 minutes. Then you can gently fluff it with a fork. Make sure to mix well as a lot of the meat, carrots and onions will be at the bottom.
For a step by step tutorial and more pictures go to www.girlandthekitchen.com.