I was asked to make a traditional Kazakh meal. So I went on the internet and started Googling what that means. With a little research, I was informed that Plov is the most traditional meal. This meal reminds me of some of the meals I ate when I was traveling. Plov is similar to rice pilaf which comes from the Turkish or Persian cultures, though it has been cooked in almost every culture. Plov is a rice-based meal with veggies and a nice, tender protein.
Ingredients: Girl and the Kitchen
- 3 pounds of your choice of meat (something with medium fat like a thigh or shoulder) – I used pork shoulder
- 3 cups of enriched parboiled rice (I used a long grain)
- 2 large yellow onions
- 8-10 large carrots
- 3-4 heads of garlic with the tops removed
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- salt to taste
- vegetable oil for frying
1. 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.
2. 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.
- I did this step and am not sure it is fully necessary. Rinsing the rice is very normal – it helps release the starches. You should do this with most of your grains (quinoa, lentils, cous cous) After rinsing the rice, I’m not sure soaking is mandatory. Plus it makes the rice bloat a little more than I would like.
3. Next comes the meat. Traditional plov is made with lamb. However, I made mine with pork mostly because I couldn’t find lamb at my local market.
4. Before you get dirty with your meat, heat up your heavy-bottomed pan with olive oil in it. You want it smoking hot.
5. Cut up the meat into medium cubes, a little bigger than bite-size. First cut them into strips, then cut them into cubes.
- You don’t want them too large or you will have to cut the meat once you start eating. This is not a meal that should require knives.
6. Season the meat heavily with salt and pepper. Then add to your pot carefully so as 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.
- You want to give the meat a good rub. This way the salt breaks down the protein and gives it a great flavor. If you overcrowd the pan, then your meat will turn a shade of grey instead of a nice brown.
7. While the meat is browning, prep your veggies. Cut off the ends of the onions. 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.
8. Peel all your carrots. If you have a Vitamix or a 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 callouses 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.
- I put mine in a lemonade pitcher filled with water and used an emulsion blender. Though I am a fan of anything Kitchen Aid, I tried theirs and returned it the next day. I enjoy my Cuisinart, Plus, it is cheaper.
9. Pulse it 2-3 times until they are all shredded. Pour into a colander to pour out excess water.
10. Next, add the onions to the nicely browned meat. Toss together. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes over high heat.
11. Add in the carrots and toss everything to combine. Let cook for 15 minutes.
12. 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.
- This is the part that threw me. With most rice it’s a 1 to 2 ratio (1 cup rice/2 cups water). With this you are just winging it. If you are like me, I had too much water which made it more like stew (which would probably be nice). But a quick fix is just ladling out the excess water. The other option is not doing enough water then adding it a ladle more at a time once the rice starts cooking.
13. GO AWAY. 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. Allow this to cook over MEDIUM heat. You want it to be heavily simmering, but not a roasting boil.
14. 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.
15. Again, take BOILING water and SLOWLY cover the rice until the water is just about 1/2 of an inch above it. See all that beautiful, brown goodness coming up to the top? That’s your flavor right there – that’s what you did all that work for.
- I may have skipped this step on accident. I think it turned out fine though.
16. 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 is it done. And this will take about 30 minutes. Once the rice is dry, cover 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.
I decided to partake in this first time experience with my husband and brother. Like every good meal, it brings people together and makes for lively conversation. Plov was a lovely meal that though it has many steps is quite easy to make. Plus it re-heats wonderfully. This simplistic meal was a hit. If you have small children, it also is a great way to get them to eat their veggies.