You'd figure that I'd know about a dish that's been around for over a thousand years. And yet, I didn't know what pilaf was until very recently.
Strike that. What I meant to say is this: I've been making pilaf for years without even knowing it. Though the details of its preparation vary from country to country (and indeed, household to household), the basics are the same: cook rice in broth. That's it. Everything else—seasonings, aromatics, garnishes, herbs, the addition of meat or vegetables or dried fruit—is fair game.
As a lover of quick and easy dishes, pilafs come up in my repertoire all the time. They're an insanely easy way to produce a flavor-packed meal in a single pan with minimum fuss.
This version combines chicken and rice with Greek flavors.
I begin by browning chicken thighs in a skillet, which leaves plenty of browned fond on the bottom of the pan to form the backbone of the flavors for the rice. Next up, I soften some onions and garlic, scraping up those browned bits as they cook, then finish it with a handful of chopped fresh oregano. Oregano is one of those herbs that retains a lot of its flavor even when dried, which means that if you can't find fresh oregano, you can substitute it with dried (I substitute at a ratio of 1 teaspoon of dried oregano per tablespoon of fresh).
After softening the aromatics, I add the rice and stock, along with some artichoke hearts. The chicken gets nestled back down into the rice, and the whole thing cooks on the stovetop until the rice is tender, fluffy, and flavorful, and the chicken is fully cooked. A squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of crumbled feta finishes it off.
A few bites in and it's clear why pilafs have earned their staying power.