Recipe from How to Cook Everything.
Stuck-Pot Rice with Potato Crust
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 1 1/2 hours, largely unattended
Visualize a stovetop paella served upside down, the gorgeous crust sitting on top. Made with rice, potatoes, or anything else that browns and sticks to the bottom of a pot—and given the fact that the recipe actually directs that you simply walk away (you’ll ruin it if you don’t)—stuck-pot rice is one of the easiest ways to get an impressive rice dish on the table.
Use brown basmati rice here if you like. The kernels will be slightly less starchy than with white basmati rice, but the flavor will be deep and delicious. Take the time to line the pot lid with a clean towel. This absorbs water so the condensation from the lid doesn’t drip back into the rice.
1 1/2 cups white or brown basmati rice
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch saffron threads (optional)
1 large or 2 small waxy potatoes, like red or other thin-skinned variety
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1. Fill a large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid with water, bring to a boil, and salt it. Stir in the rice and return to a boil, then lower the heat so the water bubbles along nicely. Cook undisturbed until partially done—white rice for about 5 minutes, brown rice for about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Taste, add salt if necessary, and sprinkle with pepper. Wipe out the pot.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small bowl or pot (or just put in 2 tablespoons oil), stir in the saffron if you’re using it, and set aside. Peel the potato and cut crosswise into thin slices.
3. Put the remaining butter or oil back into the large pot over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add 1/4 cup water and the butter-saffron mixture (or the plain melted butter or oil) to the pot. Carefully cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of potato slices.
4. Add half the rice, then the fennel, and finally the other half of the rice. Wrap a clean kitchen towel around the lid of the pot so that the corners are on top and don’t fall anywhere near the stove and cover the pot. Turn the heat to medium-high. When you hear the water spattering—about 5 minutes—turn the heat down to very low. Cook, completely undisturbed, for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes start to smell toasty—you will know—but not burned. Remove from the heat and let sit for another 5 minutes.
5. Carefully remove the lid and the cloth and turn the pot upside down over a large plate. If the potatoes come out in a single crust, terrific. If not, use a spatula to scrape the pieces out of the pan and put them on top of the rice. Serve immediately, sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper if you like.