Being of Armenian descent, I was raised on foods from that region of the world, and pilaf was one on which the children in my family cut their teeth. I never even knew rice was white until I was 17 years old as we always ate pilaf. My brothers and I had no grandmother to teach us, but we did have our great-aunt, our grandfather's sister, who filled that role, and passed-down the recipes from our ancestors to us, and now I prepare them for my own children. This pilaf recipe is it: just pilaf. Nothing fancy, no mushrooms, nor shallots or onions or pine nuts. It was our staple. We ate it with stroganoffs poured over the top, with grilled burgers on Saturday afternoons in the long, hot Summers in Long Island and then Southern California, with my mother's wonderful roasts on Sunday nights. It was the perfect side with Shish Kebob on Christmas day, and alongside our Thanksgiving turkey. This is the recipe for pilaf as Auntie taught us.
- In 2-qt. heavy saucepan with tight-fitting lid, melt butter over medium heat until foam subsides.
- Add vermicelli noodles and saute until dark and reddish in color.
- Stir in rice and saute in butter until rice is fragrant and nutty in aroma.
- Raise heat to medium-high; pour in boiling chicken broth and stir.
- Add salt and pepper, tasting a bit of the broth to ensure desired seasoning.
- Cover and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to keep broth at a simmer and cook for exactly 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove cover and taste a few grains of rice for doneness. If still a bit hard, replace cover and cook for two additional minutes.
- When rice is tender, remove pot from heat. Place a paper napkin directly on top of the pilaf and replace cover; let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
- After rest-time has elapsed, remove cover, discard the paper napkin, and stir the pilaf before serving.