Every September my husband, Aaron, and his dad hand-harvest the wild rice that grows in the creek in front of our house and take it to our favorite parcher on White Earth Reservation, who finishes the rice by toasting it in a twirling barrel over a wood fire. Real wild rice like ours is delicate, light brown instead of black, cooks in a mere 20 minutes, and takes on some of the smoke from its parching fire. It’s an entirely different beast (and species) from the black paddy rice commonly found in stores. Rice this fresh shines with a simple treatment—in this case just a buttery tangle of roasted garden onions. (If using black rice, add 20 minutes to the cooking time.)
- 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 1⁄2 lb. Vidalia onions (about 1 1/2 large onions), peeled and sliced into 1/2-to 3/4-inch-thick rounds
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1⁄4 tsp. grated nutmeg
- 1 cup natural wild rice, rinsed as needed until the water runs clear, or substitute wild black paddy rice
- 3 bay leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Meanwhile, heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the onions. Season with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, and cook until the bottoms are very dark in spots. Turn using a spatula, then add the remaining butter.
- Transfer to the oven and roast until the onions are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the thyme and nutmeg, baste with the butter, and cook until very tender, 5 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, cook the rice: In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, 2 cups water, the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and the bay leaves; bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to very low. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain any excess water.
- To serve, toss the rice with the excess butter from the onion skillet. Top with the roasted onions.